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A Real Doc Fix

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 | Peter Pitts

The following from Dr. Michael Weber, Chairman of the Center for Medicine in the Pubic Interest and a founding father of the Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators (ACRE).

Most medical progress in the last few decades has come from the combined efforts of medical practitioners and the pharmaceutical industry, the medical device industry and the makers of other innovative therapeutic and diagnostic products.

Physicians, particularly those in academic settings, are uniquely able to identify unmet needs, design research to address these needs, and ultimately interpret and disseminate the results of that work to the benefit of their colleagues and patients in the community.  Industry has the talent and resources to undertake the detailed research and development to complement the work of their physician partners and to deal with the highly complex scientific, regulatory and financial hurdles that must be crossed before new products can be made available.

Sadly, this highly productive collaboration has come under attack.  The reasons are nothing to do with scientific or ethical concerns, but rather are driven by the fear of health care insurers and some politicians and media writers that medical progress comes at a financial cost that could threaten the profits of commercial insurers and the budgets of government agencies.

While understandable, these attempts to stifle medical research and education -- for instance, such tools as the Sunshine Act within the Affordable Care Act -- create an even higher cost, for  they will have the effect of preventing access of people with medical needs to new clinical developments that could increase the length and quality of their lives.

The Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators (ACRE), in response to these dangerous constraints being placed on physicians, has gone back to basics and written a statement – in essence, a set of guidelines – on how physicians should interact with medical industries to fully preserve the high ethical standards, scientific integrity and clinical productivity that have characterized this vital work.

The guidelines (as published in Endocrine Practice) can be accessed here.