Senators Consider National Registry of Gifts to Physicians
Staff members for Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) this week plan to meet to discuss the next steps for the establishment of a national registry of gifts and payments from pharmaceutical companies to physicians, the Miami Herald reports.
Kohl and McCaskill might introduce a bill that would establish such a registry, which McCaskill said would "have a cleansing effect on what I think is an insidious practice" (Hotakainen, Miami Herald, 7/15).
At a committee hearing last month, Kohl said, "It has been estimated that the drug industry spends $19 billion annually on marketing to physicians in the form of gifts, lunches, drug samples and sponsorship of education programs." He added, "These gifts and payments can compromise physicians' medical judgment by putting their financial interest ahead of the welfare of their patients" (California Healthline, 6/28).
Jerome Kassirer, a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, said, "The magnitude of drug promotion astonishes, as 100,000 drug reps visit doctors, residents, nurses and medical students every day and ply them with free gifts, meals and gadgets."
However, according to opponents of a registry of gifts and payments from pharmaceutical companies to physicians, "drug samples are aimed at helping patients, not doctors," and "it's important for the drug industry to stay in close contact with doctors to keep them up to date on the latest drugs," the Herald reports (Miami Herald, 7/15).