Minnesota Star Tribune
U Medical School plan: Ban all gifts to doctors
By JANET MOORE, Star Tribune
October 21, 2008
The University of Minnesota Medical School is considering a new conflict-of-interest policy so strict that doctors wouldn't even be able to accept Post-it Notes bearing a drug company's logo.
The far-reaching policy, which if enacted would be among the toughest in the nation, comes as congressional investigators and the U.S. Justice Department are probing ties between doctors and drug companies and medical device manufacturers -- probes that have raised some difficult questions for the university.
The Medical School's proposed policy digs deep and reaches far into the entrenched relationship between the drug and medical device industries and the university's doctors, researchers and students, as well as the institution itself. If adopted, the policy would profoundly alter the relationship between industry and the state's largest medical school.
All personal gifts from industry would be banned. Free drug samples would be limited. Industry support for doctors' continuing medical education would be phased out. Doctors' consulting relationships would be disclosed to both patients and the public. Those financial ties would be monitored far more closely.
"It's really putting policies in place that would, as best as possible, ensure the patient's best interest,'' said Dr. Leo Furcht, co-chairman of the task force recommending the rules and chairman of the U's Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.
A draft of the proposed policy was presented to Medical School Dean Deborah Powell last month and subsequently distributed to the school's faculty for comment. That process will likely wrap up by the end of the semester. It's unclear whether approval by the university's Board of Regents will be required. Either way, Furcht said the reaction so far has been mixed.
"Many people have said, 'This is something we have to do,' there are some who feel [the policy] has gone a little too far, and some who feel it isn't enough,'' he said.
"psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty ... For instance, the more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children, for whom the drugs are especially risky and mostly unapproved." -
New York Times, June 27, 2007, Psychiatrists Top List in Drug Maker Gifts Minnesota, Wisconsin and other states are cracking down on gifts to doctors.
What about your state?
You could ask your state's psychiatric society and medical society if they have plans to ban gifts to all doctors. You can find contact info here:
State Psychiatric Societies: http://onlineapa.psych.org/listing/
Medical Societies: http://www.aad.org/gov/statemedsoc.htm