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Notions of Personal ’Sacrifice’ Help Docs Take Gifts From Industry

Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2010

Over the past decade, there has been movement toward imposing clear standards on the relationship between doctors and the drug/medical devices industry.

For example, many medical facilities and universities across the United States have placed stricter guidelines on employee acceptance of industry largesse. And in early 2009 the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, representing about 40 major drug makers, signed on to a voluntary code. That code placed a moratorium on industry "gifting" of small drug-branded items such as pens, soap dispensers and mugs.

This move followed the organization's 2002 adoption of a full ban on big-ticket items, such as tickets to sporting events and trips to vacation spots, that had been doled out to physicians in the past. That code also mandated that industry-funded educational scholarships be administered by independent experts.

Nevertheless, Sah and her colleagues stress that industry gift-giving still goes on, with drug and device makers continuing to curry favor with physicians and boost market share.

In the new study, conducted in 2009, Sah and her colleagues distributed three quality-of-life surveys to about 300 pediatric and family medicine resident physicians. Sah conducted the study while a doctoral candidate in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

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