IOM Calls on Physicians To Reject Financial Arrangements With Drugmakers
The Institute of Medicine on Tuesday issued a set of guidelines that call on physicians, medical professionals in academia and health service providers to make public all payments and gifts they receive from the drug and medical device industries, the New York Times reports (Harris, New York Times, 4/29).
The report -- by the IOM Committee on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education and Practice -- recommends that physicians, medical schools and hospitals not accept any gifts of any value from drugmakers or device makers; refrain from meeting with company sales representatives without an appointment or express invitation; and refuse product samples unless they can be used for low-income patients (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/28). The report also recommends that Congress pass legislation that would require medical device and pharmaceutical companies to disclose publicly all payments they make to physicians (New York Times, 4/29).
In addition, the report proposes the elimination of industry influence in continuing medical education courses, which are required for many U.S. physicians (CQ HealthBeat, 4/28). Drugmakers and medical device makers currently subsidize the cost of such courses, often allowing physicians to take them at no cost, the Times reports (New York Times, 4/29). According to IOM, the medical industry's share of the costs for the courses has increased over the past decade from 34% to 48% (Perrone, AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/28). The report calls for a system to ensure the courses are not influenced by the industry.
Committee Chair Bernard Lo, a professor of medicine and director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California-San Francisco, said, "It is time to end a number of long-accepted practices that create unacceptable conflicts of interest, threaten the integrity of the medical profession and erode public trust while providing no meaningful benefits to patients or society" (CQ HealthBeat, 4/28).
The report is available online.