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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Thursday, May 27, 2004  

Should docs be punished for accepting gifts from Big Pharma?

In the U.S., when pharmaceutical companies are tried for bribing physicians (the latest trial settled was about Pfizer bribing docs to prescribe Neurontin for off-label uses), physicians are usually not put to blame. The same happened recently with the drug Lupron -- urologists involved in accepting gifts or bribes were not implicated or punished in any way. However, in Italy, a few thousand doctors ARE going on trial for similar acts:

"One of the biggest inquiries into marketing practices in the drugs industry ended yesterday with Italian police asking for almost 5,000 people to be put on trial, including more than 4,000 doctors and at least 273 employees of the British pharmaceuticals giant, GlaxoSmithKline. Some face up to five years in jail if tried and convicted...

"The most serious accusations have been leveled at doctors, pharmacists and sales representatives alleged to have been involved in a programme intended to promote Hycamtin, a drug mainly used in the treatment of lung and ovarian cancers. In some cases, it is claimed, specialists received a pro rata cash payment based on the number of patients treated with the drug."

WOW. I think physicians should be held to much higher standards in taking bribes (gifts) than pharmaceutical companies should be in proposing bribes, and I think it's quite fascinating to see Italy putting docs on trial for this.

On a related note -- a new article in the Medical Journal of Australia is worth reading -- "The Ethics of Pharmaceutical Industry Relationships with Medical Students" -- AMSA's Pharmfree Pledge and 4 step program to stop the drug-company-gift addiction are spelled out in the article! Makes me proud. I'm going to keep a copy of this article in my white coat during my 4th year med school rotations. Most medical students and attendings on my rotations don't believe that there's any harm to eating free drug company lunches and taking textbooks and other gifts. They look at me funny when I bring my own lunch or buy lunch in the cafeteria -- as if I must have a "holier than thou" attitude. Perhaps I can start a productive discussion with this article.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 5/27/2004 12:18:00 PM | |


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