As a reward for that longstanding public trust, Chimonas says physicians are given leeway to self-regulate. "It is unfortunate that we've got this set of standards, there is a consensus by these three expert bodies," she says. "And yet the schools that are in a position to actually implement some things that would show that the medical profession is serious about getting this right, that it is too slow, it's not going quickly enough, and this really jeopardizes the public trust."
If medical schools don't act more assertively to install conflict of interest policies, Chimonas says they could risk an unwanted intervention by an outside entity such as the federal government.
"It is something that would be much better if the medical profession did it instead of the federal government. Government is a blunt instrument and it is important that this be done right because some of the relationships between doctors and companies are positive," she said.
"We want to make sure we have the right balance and medicine is in the best possible position to know what that balance is. I am wary that if this doesn't get done well within a reasonable time frame that something could come down from an outside body. That concerns me but on the other hand maybe the threat of that will help the schools move more quickly."