Ties Between Medical Residents, Pharmaceutical Industry Questioned
Medical residency programs should limit contact between medical residents and drug company representatives in part because residents and doctors who meet with pharmaceutical representatives "are far more likely" to prescribe the drugs representatives promote "even when [the prescription drugs] are more expensive or have no benefit over alternatives," Dr. Dan Shapiro, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Arizona, wrote on Monday in a New York Times commentary. In the University of Arizona psychiatry department, pharmaceutical representatives pay for weekly speakers, offer free dinners to residents and faculty, have free access to mailboxes and regularly "detail" medical students about the uses of their companies' medications, Shapiro writes, noting that "this is not uncommon" at other medical schools. Shapiro concludes, "If medical schools are unwilling to separate trainees from pharmaceutical company representatives, we risk the appearance of being 'bought and sold.' This is sure to lead to government regulation and greater erosion of independence. And it should" (Shapiro, New York Times, 1/20).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.