"Freebies" and Medical Ethics

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"Freebies" and Medical Ethics

The pharmaceutical industry has been accused of spending more than $165 million dollars a year on bestowing gifts upon physicians in the hope, it is charged, that they will prescribe the company's medications.

A Senate survey recently made public revealed that many doctors received vacation trips, cash and a variety of gifts that could be linked with seeking the doctor's favor.

Members of the Labor and Human Resources Committee are convinced after hearing testimony that such conduct increased the cost of medicine and incurred the risk of inappropriate medications being prescribed.

A doctor, testifying before the committee, related that he was offered $1,200 by a pharmaceutical company that wanted him to enroll in a "clinical study" involving an expensive antibiotic. The criteria for the study would require him to use their drug on twenty of his patients and record minimal data, which the doctor said amounted to the company's "hiding its bribery behind a thin veil of alleged research."

Coincidentally, one of the leading manufacturers of pharmaceuticals in the United States, Merck Sharp & Dohme, has published an advertisement in several medical journals informing the medical profession that it endorses a set of guidelines recently issued by the American Medical Association that urge practitioners not to indulge in the practice of accepting gifts and favors. …