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Wisconsin Medical Society Says No To Physician Gifts

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, October 20, 2008 12:33 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Drug Products, Physician Gifts, Pharmaceutical Companies, Conflict-Of-Interest


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto/ generic doctor/ twohumans

The Wisconsin Medical Society (WMS) recently revised the Society’s policy involving physician gifts from the pharmaceutical industry saying they are questionable, if not unacceptable forms of influence.

The policy, adopted on October 11 states: “Physicians shall accept no gifts from any provider of products that they prescribe to their patients such as personal items, office supplies, food, travel, time costs, or payment for participation in online continuing medical education. A complete ban eases the burden of compliance, biased decision making and patient distrust.

“The policy is clear and leaves no doubt that the Society’s physicians want to prevent even the slightest impression that a gift - no matter the size - could interfere with the physician’s decision-making ability,” said Steven Bergin, President of the Society.

The revised policy should not be inferred as an accusation at any specific group or industry, he also added.

“The new policy puts the Society on record, that doctors should take a bright line approach to accepting physician gifts from companies that make drugs or products that physicians may end up recommending or prescribing to their patients,” Dr. Bergin said. "There is nothing more cherished as the doctor-patient relationship, and we, as physicians, have a responsibility to make sure nothing disrupts that relationship."

The Wisconsin Medical Society, which boasts more than 12,000 members is one of the largest associations in the state. Since 1841, they have been a trusted source for health policy.

Sometimes all it takes is an appearance of impropriety to raise suspicions.

That is exactly what happened to Dr. Peter Libby, the chief of cardiology at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital who had taken money from drug companies to consult and lecture because of his growing and glowing reputation.

The compensation ranged from a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands to help drug companies with the development of drugs and to craft solid drug trials. #

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