Health Inc.

Getting Off The Drug Money Train

pills being emptied out of a money roll

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Do I sense a trend?

Congress and the states appear to be taking an increasingly skeptical view lately of pharmaceutical industry gifts to doctors and their potential influence on prescribing, but now a prominent group of doctors is kicking it up a notch by banning industry-sponsored education.

The American Psychiatric Association's Board of Trustees voted to phase out drug industry-sponsored educational programs and industry-supplied meals at annual meetings and educational seminars.

APA says industry-sponsored educational meetings have "invited a concern that the sessions may be biased in favor of the sponsoring company's medications."

APA President Nada L. Stotland tells Psychiatric Times:

"We still receive revenue from [drug companies] for advertising. They will still have exhibits at our meetings. They also sponsor fellowships and research training for minority residents ... the board felt that this issue was of greatest concern to most people. We decided to keep education separate from industry support."

Vermont recently passed a law requiring public disclosure of such gifts, "naming names and listing dollar amounts," notes the New York Times.

Minnesota already requires drug companies to report payments, and Massachusetts has limited pharmaceutical gifts to health practicioners of $50.

Jill Kozeny, a spokeswoman for Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has introduced a federal bill to limit drug industry doctor gifts, says the senator is "building the case" for his bill and may even consider expanding it.

"Health care reform legislation is certainly, potentially an opportunity," she tells NPR's Health Blog.



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