Doctors Criticize Voluntary Guidelines Designed To Restrict Some Drug Companies’ Marketing Practices
Although the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America established voluntary guidelines earlier this year to restrict many of the sales practices that drug companies use to target physicians, some doctors have said that "little has changed," the Newark Star-Ledger reports (Silverman, Newark Star-Ledger, 9/4). The guidelines, which took effect July 1, place restrictions on meals that drug industry sales representatives may purchase for doctors and limit the price of gifts to doctors to less than $100. In addition, the guidelines prohibit the purchase of entertainment -- such as tickets to sports events and films or golf events -- as gifts for doctors (California Healthline, 4/19).
Physicians who have received invitations to events sponsored by drug companies, as well as pharmaceutical industry critics, said that the guidelines "are too easily violated." For example, GlaxoSmithKline invited doctors from University of Pennsylvania hospital to lecture at an expensive French restaurant, even though according to the guidelines, "meals are supposed to be priced modestly in keeping with local standards," the Star-Ledger reports. GSK representatives said that the company "did nothing inappropriate." Leonard Morse, head of the American Medical Association council on judicial and ethical affairs, added, "We're in a period of transition. I think these such occurrences will eventually fade away." According to ImpactRx, a promotion-research company, doctors attended an average of 1.2 pharmaceutical industry-sponsored meetings and events per month between February and June 2002, but the average has decreased to 0.8 per month since July 1 (Newark Star-Ledger, 9/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.