Drug Industry Money Funds Doctor Training

It is a well-know fact that the financial ties between doctors, medical researchers, academia, and the drug industry run deep and that some highly regarded doctors and researchers have faced a great deal of criticism because of such financial arrangements. The <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_drugs">drug industry has made headlines in recent months and years over its ties to the medical community. The medical profession, also, has taken hits for accepting perks that include anything from pens and mugs to dinners and tony vacations that critics feel better enable Big Pharma to gain support from prescribing doctors.

The New York Times in now reporting that over 50 percent of this country’s internal medicine residency programs have accepted funding from industry, despite that most of the programs’ directors agreed that taking such money was considered “not desirable,” citing a survey. The problem is that residency programs accepting industry money to help train doctors who are also starting to prescribe medications is largely considered a glaring conflict of interest, pointed out the New York Times.

The survey report cited by the Times was published yesterday in the Internet edition of The Archives of Internal Medicine and covered 2006 and 2007. The New York Times wrote that, based on the survey report, industry funded some sort of education material, meal, office supplies, and drug samples in the majority of situations. The survey was conducted by The Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, said the New York Times, and obtained responses from 236 of United States’ 381 internal medicine program directors; 22,000 doctors are trained in this program.

We recently wrote that New York State Governor David Patterson proposed more stringent rules on pharmaceutical companies; nine other states have ratified legislation that has changed the way Pharma markets, said the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“Cracking down on the gifts that the drug industry gives to doctors could lead to more-independent prescribing by physicians,” said Bill Ferris, a lobbyist for senior advocacy group AARP, quoted TimesUnion, previously. “Doctors are constantly being solicited to prescribe high-cost, brand name drugs when equally effective, less expensive drugs may be available,” Ferris added.

Last year we wrote that Senator Chuck Grassley announced that he asked 23 medical schools for information about conflict of interest policies and requirements for disclosure of financial relationships between faculty and the drug industry. The 23 institutions were asked—after not responding to a prior request, which was made to 149 schools—by the American Medical Student Association for the same information. In the initial response, the 23 schools reportedly replied either “no response” or “decline to submit policies.”

“There’s a lot of skepticism about financial relationships between doctors and drug companies,” Grassley said. “Disclosure of those ties would help to build confidence that there’s nothing to hide. Requiring disclosure is a common sense reform based on the public dollars and public trust at stake in medical training, medical research and the practice of medicine,” Grassley added.

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