The board of the 12,000-member Wisconsin Medical Society has approved a policy that calls for a complete ban on all gifts from the providers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, stating that such a bright-line policy eases the burdens of compliance, biased decision making and patient mistrust.
Physicians shall accept no gifts from any provider of products that they prescribe to their patients such as personal items, office supplies, food, travel and time costs, or payment for participation in on-line CME (Continuing Medical Education), the policy stated. As a basis for its actions, the board cited a policy proposal published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that said the conflicts of interest between a physician committed to patient care and companies who desire to sell their products pose challenges to the principles of medical professionalism.
In approving the new policy, the board also affirmed policies that say that physicians should not serve as members of a health product companys speaker bureau and should not allow their names to be used as authors for articles written by health product company employees. The bright line was dimmed somewhat on the subject of giving free drug samples to patients and merely stated that the practice should be limited and when possible, replaced by a system of vouchers for evidence-based drug choices. -- by Andis Robeznieks