New Perspective on Pharma- Physician interaction

Despite ever increasing regulations, and even though some institutions and medical societies have adopted policies that limit or ban such practices, new research shows that most physicians and doctors-in-training still have a positive attitude toward the marketing activities of pharmaceutical companies.

According to the study published in the June Archives of Surgery 72% of surveyed doctors and medical students said sponsored lunches were appropriate. Nearly 60% said samples improve care for their patients, and 71% said pharmaceutical and device company money is useful for funding residency programs.

Additionally, the majority of doctors thought that educational material supplied by pharma (68.8%) and device (78.5%) companies was a useful way to learn about new products.

There were limits, though. About 3:4 respondents believed gifts valuing more than $50 were unacceptable and almost all thought vacations were inappropriate.

The study authors polled almost 600 faculty and medical trainees at 11 New York City hospitals that have banned or limited the interaction between physicians and industry.

Some difference was seen between different physician groups. Surgeons were more likely to have a positive attitude toward industry. They believed that gifts, such as residency funding and travel reimbursement for attending lectures, are acceptable. Pediatricians held less favorable attitudes.

Interestingly, 73.2% of physicians thought that their institution should allow physician-pharma interaction while almost the same number (72.7%) strongly believe that their prescribing was not influenced by industry marketing practices.

Clearly, not all physician-industry interactions are created equal. While politicians and regulators would have physicians shun all contact with the pharmaceutical and device industries, many doctors believe such relationships are healthy and beneficial.

Before regulators rushed to reduce conflict-of-interest, maybe they should have talked to the very people most impacted by the rules.  Word on Health is not surprised that doctors take umbrage at the suggestion that a pen or a sandwich paid for by industry might affect their judgment. The public demonization of financial relationships between physicians and industry, although widespread, is not supported by any conclusive evidence.

Despite this, relationships continue to be investigated and regulations become more rigorous. Are they too much or too little?  We’d love to hear your views on this. Please leave a comment below.

One thought on “New Perspective on Pharma- Physician interaction

  1. The interaction between industry and the practicing physician is necessary to allow for the doctor to learn about new drugs and devices and to make sure that they are being used appropriately. In addition there is a symbiotic relationship between industry and the medical community is absolutely necessary for new innovations and product development. The more distant industry is from the doctors and researchers the less there are opportunity for the dialogue necessary to stimulate thought and innovation.
    To assume that minor relationships, such as a pen or a lunch, will alter a professional’s behavior is unrealistic. Furthermore, such relationships are not unique to the medical profession and are not being externally scrutinized, nor are they perceived to be unacceptable.

    Disclosure and ethical behaviors temper the adverse effects of any relationship.

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