Gifts to US doctors reigned in

2 May 2008

Gifts from industry reigned in, inline with EU

A task force of medical and industry leaders has recommended a new set of restrictions on what doctors, staff members and students at US medical schools can accept from drug and medical device companies.

Bans are to be imposed on personal gifts, industry-supplied food and meals, free travel that is not reimbursement for services and payment for attending industry-sponsored meetings. Also set to be outlawed are the notorious ghostwriting services, in which a drug company drafts a journal article and then persuades a respected academic to sign on as the lead author, giving it a gloss of objectivity that it may not deserve.

The report, from the Association of American Medical Colleges, may go some way to following the example set in the EU by the EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) Code, adopted over the last few years, limiting gifts and hospitality.



Executive Summary from the report, released 27th of April 2008:

“An effective and principled partnership between academic medical centers and various health industries is critical in order to realize fully the benefits of biomedical research and ensure continued advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Appropriate management of this partnership by both academic medical centers and industry is crucial to ensure that it remains principled, thereby sustaining public trust in the proposition that both partners are fundamentally dedicated to the welfare of patients and the improvement of public health.

Over recent decades, medical schools and teaching hospitals have become increasingly dependent on industry support of their core educational missions. This reliance raises concerns because such support, including gifts, can influence the objectivity and integrity of academic teaching, learning, and practice, thereby calling into question the commitment of academia and industry together to promote the public’s interest by fostering the most cost-effective, evidence-based medical care possible.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) embraces the obligation of the profession to manage, through effective self-regulation, all real or perceived conflicts of interest. Accordingly, in 2006 AAMC charged a special Task Force on Industry Funding of Medical Education (hereafter referred to as Task Force) with
forging consensus principles to guide the AAMC and the leaders of medical schools and teaching hospitals in developing policies and procedures to manage industry gifting practices and financial support of their programs of medical education for students, trainees, faculty, and community physicians. This report is the product of the Task Force’s efforts.

The Report acknowledges the new policy directions being implemented in many medical schools and teaching hospitals to address industry support of medical education, and it urges all academic medical centers to accelerate their adoption of policies that better manage, and when necessary, prohibit, academic-industry interactions that can inherently create conflicts of interest and undermine standards of professionalism. Although the charge to the Task Force was focused on funding from the pharmaceutical and device industries, institutional policies on conflicts of interest should be comprehensive and encompass providers of equipment and services as well. Concomitantly, industry should voluntarily discontinue those practices that compromise professionalism as well as public trust.



Examples of the health benefits derived from