Group Urges Ban on Medical Giveaways

  • by: |
  • 04/28/2008
Published: April 28, 2008

Drug and medical device companies should be banned from offering free food, gifts, travel and ghost-writing services to doctors, staff members and students in all 129 of the nation’s medical colleges, an influential college association has concluded.

The proposed ban is the result of a two-year effort by the group, the Association of American Medical Colleges, to create a model policy governing interactions between the schools and industry. While schools can ignore the association’s advice, most follow its recommendations.

Rob Restuccia, executive director of the Prescription Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to eliminating conflicts of interest in medicine, said the report would transform medical education.

Most medical schools do not have strong conflict-of-interest policies, and this report will change that, Mr. Restuccia said.

The rules would apply only to medical schools, but they could have enormous influence across medicine, said Dr. David Rothman, president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University.

We’re hoping the example set by academic medical colleges will be contagious, Dr. Rothman said.

"Drug companies spend billions wooing doctors” more than they spend on research or consumer advertising. Medical schools, packed with prominent professors and impressionable trainees, are particularly attractive marketing targets."


Here are the facts from a November 2006 GAO report:

Drug companies spent less in 2005 on DTC advertising ($4.2 billion) than on promotion to physicians ($7.2 billion) or research and development ($31.4 billion).

Now some stuff Gardiner left out:

The Prescription Project is funded by trial attorneys who sue drug companies. IMAP gets millions from George Soros.

And the report never uses the word "ban.”

Here's what is does say, courtesy of Thomas Sullivan's blog:

For Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Academic medical centers offering CME programs should develop audit mechanisms to assure compliance with the standards of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), including those with respect to content validation and meals.

Academic medical centers should establish a central CME office through which all requests for industry support and receipt of funds for CME activity are coordinated and overseen.

To the extent that educational programs for physicians are supported by any commercial entity, including pharmaceutical, device, equipment, and service entities, the programs should be offered only by ACCME-accredited providers according to ACCME standards.

In respect to CME these are all very reasonable recommendations, and most universities have already undertaken significant effort to achieve these goals.

The document covers many other things not directly related to CME including:

• Gifts to individuals (Prohibiting)
• Pharmaceutical samples, (Central Distribution)
• Site access by pharmaceutical representatives, (Limited to appointment or invitation, student participation limited, more MD’s, PhD’s and PharmD’s)
• Site access by device manufacturer representatives, (credentialing, appointment or invitation, disclosure and consent of patients, student participation limited)
• Participation in (Non CME) industry sponsored programs. (Discourage faculty, transparency of payment and fair market value, prohibit attendance, paying for attendance, accepting personal gifts)
• Industry Sponsored Scholarships and other Educational Funds for Trainees (Giving Centrally, no Quid pro quo, selection sole responsibility of the university)
• Food (only for ACCME-Accredited Events)
• Travel (only for legitimate reimbursement or contractual services.
• Ghostwriting (transparency of all involved in the process)
• Purchasing (Disclosure of interest, and recuse from purchasing decisions in COI cases)
• Boards of Directors, Advisory Boards and Consulting (Valuable and Compensation to Reflect Fair Market Value)

All the news that's fit to print?


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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