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AMA Proposes End to Doctor’s Cozy Relations with Big Pharma

Well if you’ve followed my advice and read Greg Critser’s book Generation RX the following story won’t be a surprise. If you have a mouthful of coffee while reading this, swallowed before reading any further. We don’t want you to choke.

The Journal of the American Medical Association’s January 25, 2006 issue announced a wide range of proposals in an study titled “Health Industry Practices That Create Conflicts of Interest.”

In other words, M.D.s should stop taking bribes, more politely called gifts. Bribes come in many forms, not likely cash in brown paper bags like those old James Cagney films, but an estimated $10 billion dollars in gifts, stipends, travel allowances, consulting fees and even so-called education programs, all of which are designed to get doctor’s to prescribe more and more drugs, and more expensive drugs too.

As noted in the study, there are 90,000 drug manufacturer sales representatives which JAMA states amounts to “$13,000 a year per doctor on marketing activities, the costs of which are reflected in drug prices.”

As Mike Adams, (see newstarget.com), our favorite muckraker of late notes, most doctors dislike drug sales representatives but even most of these don’t shy away from taking advantage of the perks of the trade. JAMA, like most trade publications are pro-business. So when JAMA says something is rotten, you know things are out of hand.

As noted by Adams, the JAMA recommended proposal would

Prohibit doctors from accepting free drug samples.

Exclude doctors who have financial ties to drug companies from serving on the hospital panels that determine which medicines should be on the preferred prescribing lists.

Prohibit drug companies from providing direct financing for educational programming.

Prohibit medical faculty from belonging to pharmaceutical companies’ speakers’ bureaus or publishing drug company articles as their own.

Require faculty members that receive financial support from pharmaceutical companies to post them on public Internet sites.

In case you aren’t aware, many of the free samples doctors provide are newer more expensive patent protected drugs that don’t offer any benefits over older ones.

Furthermore, the relationship between faculty research and the pharmaceutical industry is, well, let’s just say about as reliable as the meticulous research done for Big Tobacco on the effects of nicotine. In other words, you get what you pay for.

Seems like the business of healthcare might have turned a corner. Stay tuned though, because the rules aren’t approved yet and

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