Johns Hopkins, Partners HealthCare Announce New Conflict-of-Interest Policies
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has instituted a new policy "on interaction with industry" that prohibits no-cost drug samples and gifts, limits interaction with drug and device company representatives and prohibits physicians from participating in consulting jobs for which they do little to no work, the Wall Street Journal's "Health Blog" reports.
The policy, which applies to Hopkins' medical school, hospitals and clinics, bans device and drug representatives from all patient-care areas and allows them in other areas only if they have been invited by a physician or nurse. All gifts, regardless of value, are prohibited and donations must be made directly to Hopkins rather than individual physicians. Julie Gottlieb, assistant dean for policy coordination at the medical school, said that the concern was that no-cost samples often encourage physicians to prescribe more costly drugs. The policy states that paid consulting arrangements "without commensurate associated duties are considered gifts and are prohibited." Gottlieb said, "One of the main thrusts of this whole policy is to try to remove the marketing component of academic-industry relations from the equation" (Rubenstein, "Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 4/8).
In related news, hospital and physician network Partners HealthCare on Thursday disclosed a new policy that prohibits its staff from accepting gifts and meals from drug and device firms and traveling as paid members of company "speakers bureaus" in order to help those companies market specific drugs, the Boston Globe reports. Partners also is limiting staff interactions with company sales representatives and prohibiting company representatives from providing no-cost drug samples directly to physicians. The policy also prohibits ghostwriting, a process in which physicians allow their name to be used on research they did not perform.
Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the commission that developed the guidelines, said that physicians eating meals paid for by companies "doesn't promote a positive image of physicians and increases health care costs." Thomas Stossel, a physician who was an adviser to Merck several years ago, said, "We have all these tools now [for caring for patients], and those tools have come from physicians working with industry." The policy will be implemented by Oct. 1 (Kowalczyk, Boston Globe, 4/10).