Several years after issuing conflict-of-interest guidelines for its physicians, theYale Medical Group, which is an appendage of the Yale University School of Medicine, has adopted a new, comprehensive policy that addresses financial ties to drug and device makers; gifts, meals and other goodies from industry; ghostwriting; samples; consulting and continuing medical education.
"We wanted to upgrade the guidelines to a full-blown policy so that faculty and others understand that these are no longer electives, because the landscape has changed," David Leffell, Yale Medical Group's ceo, tells us. To clarify, the Yale Medical Group is staffed by roughly 800 academic physicians from the Yale School of Medicine; it is not a separate practice or foundation.
The move reflects ongoing debate over the interactions between academics and drug and device makers in the wake of a US Senate Finance Committee investigation that uncovered several instances of undisclosed conflicts of interest. In response, the National Institutes of Health has proposed new conflict rules for researchers (look here).
The probe also tied into the larger, related discussion about the extent to which industry may unduly influence physicians and academics. Other universities that have recently adopted policies include the University of Wisconsin (read here), the University of Minnesota (look here) and Harvard Medical School (see this), although these efforts have met with varying reactions.
You can read the details of the Yale policy here. For instance, sales reps will be allowed on site by invitation and appointment only. And industry-sponsored CME will be allowed ot continue, as will industry-sponsored meals during CME events, so long as rules established by the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) are followed.
"Our view is that we continue to respect the role the pharmaceutical industry plays in contributing to and investing in the health of people, and we firmly recognize most innovation in health-related therapies would not be possible without the pharmaceutical industry," says Leffell. "That doesn't mean they are angels or all medical schools are angelic. But we try to recognize the pharmaceutical industry as an important partner."
Photo courtesy of Jerome Kassirer