U.S. Doctors are Wined and Dined by Drug Sales Reps

Four out of five U.S. doctors surveyed said they let drug and device makers buy them food and drinks despite recent efforts to tighten ethics rules and avoid conflicts of interest.

The survey also found that family doctors were more likely to meet with industry sales representatives, and that cardiologists were more likely to pocket fees than other specialists.

The study is the first to document the extent of the relationships between doctors and sales reps since 2002, when an industry group adopted voluntary guidelines discouraging companies from giving doctors gifts or tickets. [Comment: what about medical ethics guidelines for doctors?] In general, researchers found that hardly anything had changed since studies a couple of years earlier.

"These studies are fairly disturbing. There appears to be no dialing back at all on these relationships," said Merrill Goozner of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The survey, published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was done by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale University and the University of Melbourne in Australia. (From an AP article in the Detroit Free Press.)

Institute of Medicine Report Calls for Drug Companies to Stop Gifts to Doctors

 4-29-09 The NY Times reported today that a report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine which is part of the National Academy of Sciences calls for doctors to stop taking gifts from drug and medical device makers.

The report stated "It is time for medical schools to end a number of long-accepted relationships and practices that create conflicts of interest, threaten the integrity of their missions and their reputations and put public trust in jeopardy."

The report calls for Congress to pass legislation that would require drug and device makers to publicly disclose all payments made to doctors. Senators Grassley, Republican, and Kohl, Democrat have co-sponsored legislation that would do just that.

Drug companies spend billions of dollars wooing doctors--more than they spend on research or consumer advertising--which contributes to the excessive cost of health care in the U.S. The majority of the money is spent on giving doctors free drug samples, free food, free medical refresher courses and payments for marketing lectures which typically consist of reading or presenting material prepared by the drug companies. The Institute's report recommends that these efforts end.

Last year in a tiny nod to appease critics, several big drug companies agreed to stop giving pens, coffee mugs, paper pads and other small gifts to doctors but defended the other activities as allegedly contributing to both doctors and their patients.  Here's a link to a NY Times article by Gardiner Harris dated 4-29-09--


More by this Author

Comments 10 comments

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author


New York Times

Re: Harvard Drops Media Restriction Policy

The fact that Harvard Medical School adopted such an ill-advised policy shows that it is not dealing with the fact that its doctors are feeding at the pharmaceutical industry trough like hogs down on the farm. I wonder what Harvard president Drew Faust has to say about this matter? Is the Medical School de facto beyond her authority to control?

Ralph Deeds

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Panel finds that Dr. Kuklo committed "research misconduct" in forgery of other doctors' signatures in support of his study of Medtronic bone growth product, Infuse.

Michael Shane profile image

Michael Shane 6 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

Mr. Deeds, I absolutely agree with you 100%. Sad our society is filled with so many greedy crooks. What happened to integrity? I enjoy your hubs & appreciate your intelligence...Thanks!

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Harvard Medical School (HMS) on July 21 announced changes in its policies governing faculty members’ financial conflicts of interest and commitment (COI). This is the first such comprehensive revision since 2004, and, by the school’s account, the most thorough review since the policies were initiated in 1990. Among the principal changes introduced are measures to:

* disclose publicly all relevant faculty financial interests on the Harvard Catalyst website, and streamline and coordinate reporting for all faculty members, whether at HMS proper or in the affiliated hospitals (where thousands of faculty members holding clinical appointments are based);

* prohibit all personal gifts, travel, or meals from industry (other than travel and meals made available in the course of allowed activities), consistent with recently enacted Massachusetts law;

* prohibit faculty participation in industry-sponsored speakers’ bureaus (where academic experts are, in effect, rented to present information prepared and provided by companies which are marketing treatments), and disallow compensation for any speaking engagement that limits a faculty member’s independence in presenting content; and

* limit (but not end) industry funding for creation and delivery of continuing medical education (CME) course content, and control (but not prohibit) the ways in which industry can advertise or exhibit at such courses.

The new policies and practices will begin taking effect on a rolling basis next January. On the medical school’s Integrity in Academic Medicine page, find the HMS news release; a message from Dean Jeffrey S. Flier (who accepted all of the committee recommendations); the text of the 64-page report of the Faculty of Medicine Committee on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment (delivered to Flier on March 16); and other materials.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Federal drug regulators ordered GlaxoSmithKline to send a letter to crucial doctors describing a hearing in July where an expert advisory panel discussed the risks of

Dr. David Graham, of the Food and Drug Administration, called Glaxo's summary “biased, misleading and not truthful.”...“This letter is really deceptive,” said Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, a panel member...Dr. Curt D. Furberg, also a panel member, described the letter as a “very Avandia friendly” document that ignored much of the discussion criticizing the validity of GlaxoSmithKline’s studies. Other panel members expressed similar reservations.

But a federal official and some members of the panel now say the company’s letter is misleading and could endanger patients. The dispute is occurring just weeks before the Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce whether Avandia’s label must include new warnings, whether sales of the drug will be restricted or whether Avandia must be withdrawn from the market.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Do you wonder why health care costs so much? Here's one reason why--

Biotronik's devices sudden popularity was apparently not left to chance. In mid-2008, Biotronik hired several cardiologists who implant heart devices at the Las Vegas hospital as consultants, paying them fees that may have reached as high as $5,000 a month, company documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate. Those doctors then did the rest. Meanwhile, the hospital’s chief executive said she never asked during the hospital’s switch to Biotronik whether those physicians had a financial connection to the company.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

ProPublica Website--Check Here to See if Your Doctor is Being Paid by Drug Companies

Dollars for Docs - ProPublica

ProPublica has compiled the disclosed payments from pharma companies to doctors and other health care providers. Search for your doctor in our interactive database.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

12-15-13NYTimes "The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder"

The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder -

Diagnoses have soared as makers of the drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have found success with a two-decade marketing campaign.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

12-17-13NYTimes--GlaxoSmithKline to Stop Paying Doctors to Promote its Drugs

Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs -

The announcement, an apparent first for a major drug company, would end a common practice that is criticized for posing a conflict of interest.

Tyler 22 months ago

This may be the only time being a fame whore is actually beeacifinl, well to us not Taylor. Had Taylor kept a low key for a month or so, then we would have a harder time not believing her. But since the fame whore cant pass up an opportunity to be photographed, there is an abundance of photographic evidence. If there was someway for the police to charge her with a crime, I'm sure they could collect all the pictures taken of her at events. Can you sue someone for slander, if the person being talked about is dead? Does anyone know if Taylor's psychiatrist has received any backlash for his extremely inappropriate relationship with a patient? Lets pretend for a second that Taylor is telling the truth and was abused, wouldnt her psychiatrist's behavior seem like he was sexually preying on some broken woman? Now, if we come back to reality we can see that Taylor is probably playing the Dr the same way she played Russell. She probably seduced him, how anyone could be seduced by her is a mystery, and used him to add credibility to her story. She probably has dirt on him and is blackmailing him to do her biding, my guess is if she did seduce him she has pics or video of him coming onto her or the two of them having sex. Disclaimer, I just saw Girl with the Dragon tattoo so that may be why that scenario is in my head.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article