Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Stanford University bans gifts from drug sales reps

The Stanford University medical center has joined with Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania in bans on gifts of any kind made from pharmaceutical sales representatives to doctors.

In addition to mugs, pens, free sporting event tickets and lunch spreads, doctors often receive prescription drug samples from sales reps -- which most likely skew the decision to give a patient more expensive prescription drugs instead of cheaper or over-the-counter alternatives.

The drug industry spends about $21 billion per year on marketing -- with 90 percent of that directed solely at physicians. Pharmaceutical companies say this new measure will make it harder for doctors to interact with, and learn from, sales representatives.

Research has shown that doctors don't have the time to learn and catch up on the latest medical knowledge. But critics of this practice say learning from a sole, biased source -- the pharmaceutical industry -- about prescription drugs might be just as bad as not learning newer, unbiased information at all.

"This rather hypocritical stance from Big Pharma and its direct meddling into the physician community may be slowly coming to an end," said conventional medicine critic Mike Adams, in response to the ban. He added, "If this Stanford ban makes it more difficult for Big Pharma to 'interact' with doctors, then the average patient should be rejoicing right now -- they'll finally have a non-biased doctor's perspective that respects the patient more than Big Pharma's massive profits.

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