Will all medical schools bar the door to pharma giveaways? The Association of American Medical Colleges hopes so. After two years of study, the influential group drafted a policy that would ban drug and device companies from handing over free food, gifts, travel, and ghostwritingÂ services to docs, staff, and students in all 129 U.S. med schools. "Most medical schools do not have strong conflict-of-interest policies, and this report will change that," one anti-conflicts of interest activist told the New York Times.
Schools can ignore the association's advice, but most don't. And though the rules would apply only to med schools, they could in turn influence providers of all stripes.
Drug companies spend more to soft-soap doctors than they do on research or consumer ads--and med schools are big targets, because they harbor not only influential profs but green students. "Such forms of industry involvement tend to establish reciprocal relationships that can inject bias, distort decision-making and create the perception... that practitioners are being 'bought' or 'bribed' by industry," the association's report said.
Interestingly, the task force that drafted this report wasn't expected to be so strident: Members included CEOs of Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Amgen, and Medtronic, and it was chaired by former Merck chief Dr. Roy Vagelos.
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