Follow us on:

EDITORIAL: State should ban gifts to doctors

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pharmaceutical and medical devices companies spend lavishly to convince doctors to use their products. Consumers Union estimates the companies spend from $7 million to $11 million a year in Connecticut giving doctors everything from notepads and pens to meals, trips and refresher courses.

The money is not being spent out of charity, but to drive sales. This aggressive marketing drives up health care costs and affects treatment decisions and research, while undermining public faith in the integrity of medical decisions.

Doctors and drug makers have attempted to respond to this long-standing problem. In recent years, the medical schools at Yale, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, have adopted gift bans. The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations — which includes large drug makers such as Pfizer — has revised its code of ethics to bar the priciest gifts to doctors, such as trips to golf resorts and luxury hotels, that might influence what drugs a doctor prescribes. However, the revised code still allows “work-related” gifts and trips that aren’t blatant junkets.

Another area of potential conflict of interest is continuing education courses for doctors sponsored by drug and medical device makers. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America, the American Medical Association and the accreditation association for continuing medical education have agreed that the organizer of a course, not its commercial sponsor, should control its content.

These steps within the medical community are being followed by government regulation and laws. Massachusetts has approved rules that bar gifts, put limits on meals and requires companies to disclose publicly payments of more than $50 to physicians for consulting and speaking fees.

The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, wants Congress to require drug and medical device makers to disclose all payments to physicians. The legislation is pending in Washington.

The same week that the Institute of Medicine issued a report saying doctors, medical schools and hospitals should stop taking payola, a press conference was held in Hartford in support of state legislation to either ban or severely limit the gifts. The legislation reflects a solid consensus among academic and professional leaders of the medical community and a growing acceptance by manufacturers of a need for restraint. It should be approved.


Did you miss an issue of our online newsletter? You can access past newsletter issues or you can receive future newsletters via email by joining our mailing list.

Health Care Blog

Three Vaccines for Fall: What You Need to Know
According to the NY Times, here’s who should get the flu, Covid and R.S.V. vaccines, and when. By Ap…
Continue Reading »

How the Inflation Reduction Act Reduces Health Care Costs
CAP American Progress ARTICLE AUG 12, 2022  Nicole Rapfogel & Emily Gee The Inflation Reduction …
Continue Reading »

Hospital Visitation Restrictions Are Hurting Patients and Nurses — New protocols and COVID mitigation techniques can enable safe visitation
Medpage Today |  by Karen Cox, PhD, RN, and Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH September 2, 2021 As COVID…
Continue Reading »

Becoming a More Empowered Patient

First, we have chosen to share a video by Consumer Health Choices: Talking With Your Doctor. In it you will see how preparing for you appointment can make a difference.

We have chosen a second video by the National Patient Safety Foundation: AskMe3, to share with you. Here, you learn that there are three important questions to ask your doctor whenever you see him or her.

Finally, we are sharing a series of videos by Dartmouth-Hitchcock:
Self-Advocacy: The Empowered Patient,
Self-Advocacy: Preparing for your Visit,
Self-Advocacy: Why It's Important To Share and
Self-Advocacy: Doing Research.

For the complete story, please click here

5 Things to Know

  1. What you need to know in the Hospital
  2. 15 Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Risk of a Hospital Infection
  3. Selecting Doctors & Hospitals
  4. What to do to avoid medication error
  5. AHRQ Director Helps Consumers Navigate the Health Care System in a New Advice Column on the Web

You've Suffered Medical Harm - Now What Do You Do?

According to a recent article published by ProPublica titled: So You’ve Become a Patient Safety Statistic – Now What? by Marshall Allen there are six things to do….

  1. Get a copy of medical records.
  2. Make sure the incident is reported internally.
  3. If the patient has died, order a forensic autopsy.
  4. Consider calling an attorney.
  5. Meet with the doctor and hospital officials.
  6. Report the incident to regulators, who can investigate.

For greater detail and more important information, please read the full article.