Could this become a trend? Yesterday, you may recall that we wrote about theUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which is putting the finishing touches on a conflicts-of-interest policy to create guidelines for distributing samples. Now, the University of Texas Health Science Center will enact a new policy on Jan. 1, in which doctors and med students will have to refuse any gifts from the pharmaceutical industry.
"Gifts, no matter how small, maybe have the potential, subliminally even, to affect a decision that a clinician might be making," Robert Clark, UTHSC assistant vice president for clinical research, tells a San Antonio television station. "What is the very best thing for this particular patient in terms of the drug I'm going to prescribe or the device I'm going to recommend."
The gifts now prohibited include meals, trips, event tickets, textbooks, electronic devices, flashlights, even pens and notepads. You can watch the television report here.
Fred Campbell is an internal medicine doctor who treats patients at University Health Center Southeast. While he says some physicians are a bit resistant to this upcoming change, most are embracing this new, more strict policy. "It's important to remove as much conflict of interest as possible," he tells the station. "Clinical decision-making should be made on the basis of evidence rather than the lure of enticements."
As we have noted previously, these moves come after the American Medical Student Association began an aggressive campaign ranking med school policies in hopes of reducing industry influence. The organization recently held its annual Pharm-Free Week to promote the idea.