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Med students want reforms

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

Lawmakers can’t take gifts, so why should doctors?

The drug industry spends big bucks every year lavishing doctors with free samples and other goodies. Does that influence how they prescribe drugs? Most physicians say no. But the American Medical Student Association argues that, at the very least, the freebies raise questions about how much influence the drug firms have. The group, meeting in Chicago this week, favors a ban on all industry marketing to doctors. […]

The group’s ban goes much further than the guidelines of the leading doctors’ group, the American Medical Association. The AMA believes doctors can accept “modest” meals and gifts related to their work that cost about $100. Doctors may also accept “reasonable” speakers’ fees. They may not accept cash, junkets and any gifts with strings attached.

The student group, which represents about two-thirds of the nation’s medical students, doesn’t think doctors should accept any promotional gifts or speakers’ fees. It believes hospitals should discontinue industry-funded lectures and lunches. It argues the huge marketing expenses drive up the cost of drugs. Finally, it thinks doctors should get information about drugs from independent sources and not rely on drug sales representatives. […]

According to an article in the April issue of Atlantic Monthly, doctors who insist that they are not influenced by goodies from drug reps are contradicted by studies that show just the opposite — that they are more likely to prescribe a gift-giver’s drug. And it cites one study that found that the more gifts a doctors gets, the more likely he or she will believe that gifts have no effect.

I knew some legislators like that. They’re gone now, thankfully. [emphasis added]

- Posted by Rich Miller        

5 Comments
  1. - the Patriot - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 7:52 am:

    I would agree this is a problem, but I don’t think it makes doctors prescribe bad medicine. The fact is maybe the company spending the most money to give gifts has good products. Ultimately if the Dr. Prescribes the wrong medicine he is going to get sued and probably lose his license. I don’t believe Doctor’s are going go give bad medicine for some pens and a stress ball.

    The real problem is our society is so litigous now, drug companies cannot give the information on the side effects of a drug to a patient and let them make an informed decision based on a recommendation from the doctor.

    Wouldn’t we be better off if the doctor could say, here are 3 drugs and the pros and cons of each, you decide but we can’t do that.

    Not to mention the role of health insurance. The fact is most insurers will pay for one commpanies drug but not the competitor. The doctor can see that and prescibes the alternative covered by the patients insurance not just the one who gave him a pack of cigars.

    This system is a mess, but cutting off drug reps is will not solve the problem.


  2. - Doctor Don - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 7:58 am:

    Let’s not forget that Pfizer was a major funder for the med society in their med mal battle the last few years.


  3. - Greg - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 9:51 am:

    There is good and bad with the way drugs are sold. A lot of doctors don’t have time to keep up on the latest drugs and research. An intermediary can help close that knowledge gap. Some advertising in the mental health arena has led to people recognizing that they did have a problem and were able to get treated. On the other hand, you can go too far with advertising and… say…lobbying legislatures to make viagra and other lifestyle drugs mandated (insurance coverage) or available through Medicaid.

    Coming from the private sector I can say there is one big hole in the entire argument on opponents of drug marketing. They never define what it is. In the private sector everything from product development to delivery is part of the marketing process. To sit there and say the drug companies have bloated marketing budgets is pretty unfair unless you can define what you mean by marketing.

    At first, they used advertising. But out of the $800 million it costs to develop some drugs, the advertising was a miniscule amount. After that was shot down, the broader term of marketing was used. That could mean anything.

    Because drugs are intellectual property developed in a lab by high priced scientists w/tons of cool equipment, new drugs are going to be expensive. Sales reps are going to have to be aggressive in a hyper competitive marketplace where you have limited time to show a profit due to patent laws. Gifts bans aren’t going to lower costs.


  4. - So.ILL - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 10:35 am:

    on the other side I know doctors give away these samples to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.


  5. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 1:09 pm:

    Who didn’t see Harrison Ford’s “The Fugitive”?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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