[to top of second column]
"There is no industry far and away that has been more generous than the pharmaceutical industry," Gilroy added, noting companies give away medication samples, fund large prescription assistance programs for the poor, have helped African countries get AIDS medications, and donate drugs and medical supplies after major disasters.
But pharmaceutical analyst Steve Brozak of WBB Securities said drugmakers will find ways to adapt to new rules.
"The earlier you can hook one of these doctors, the more loyal they are" to a brand, Brozak said.
Medical groups have been fighting industry influence harder since a 2006 JAMA editorial by 11 prominent doctors urged teaching hospitals to lead in cleaning up conflicts of interest between medicine and industry.
David Rothman, president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, said about one-fourth of U.S. medical schools now have policies on industry gifts "that really pass muster." Some bar sales reps from giving doctors drug samples -- but allow donations to a central supply office -- and don't let them wander their halls to speak to doctors.
"You're not being bribed, you're being gifted," doctors may think, but industry freebies influence prescribing patterns, Rothman said.
At University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, possibly the strictest, pharmaceutical reps since February have had to get a perfect score on an online training program about its rules to get appointments. Some reps have been warned about infractions, but none have been banned, said Dr. Barbara Barnes, head of industry relations.
Rothman said there's a new effort to "clean up" continuing medical education of doctors, the only professionals he knows who don't pay for it themselves.
In June, the Association of American Medical Colleges put out guidelines that bar drugmakers from paying for continuing medical education sessions on specific topics but allow donations to a central fund.
The Council of Medical Specialty Societies, which represents 32 specialty groups, this summer started collecting each group's best practices on disclosure and limitations on speaking and other activities by their officers. Council CEO Dr. Norman Kahn said a new council policy should be ready in November.
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, a frequent industry critic, is sponsoring a bill to require drugmakers to report all payments to doctors -- from buying meals to flying them to conferences at resorts.
Doctors say there's more to be done, but see an impact.
Dr. Marc Siegel, an internist and associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, said the school has fewer drugmaker-sponsored events, and he no longer gets offers of baseball tickets or paid junkets as a consultant at a doctors' meeting -- things he turned down anyway. He said some colleagues no longer let drug sales reps in their offices, but he does.
"I don't mind -- I like my staff to get a free lunch," Siegel said. "I don't think it influences one iota what I prescribe."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor