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Notions of Personal 'Sacrifice' Help Docs Take Gifts From Industry
Date:9/14/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- If doctors are told that they've studied and worked hard to get where they are today, they find it easier to justify taking gifts from drug and medical-device companies, a new study finds.

While efforts to trim the number of these "freebies" offered to American physicians -- everything from pens to paid trips -- have made inroads over the past few years, conflicts of interest arising from the practice is still a problem, say the authors of a study appearing in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession do need to interact," said study author Sunita Sah, currently a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University in Durham, N.C. "But that interaction, particularly in light of the temptations involved and the potential threat to the public trust, does need to be more carefully managed than it traditionally has been."

Over the past decade, there has been movement toward imposing clear standards on the relationship between doctors and the drug/medical devices industry.

For example, many medical facilities and universities across the United States have placed stricter guidelines on employee acceptance of industry largesse. And in early 2009 the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, representing about 40 major drug makers, signed on to a voluntary code. That code placed a moratorium on industry "gifting" of small drug-branded items such as pens, soap dispensers and mugs.

This move followed the organization's 2002 adoption of a full ban on big-ticket items, such as tickets to sporting events and trips to vacation spots, that had been doled out to physicians in the past. That code also mandated that industry-funded educational scholarships be administered by independent experts.

Nevertheless, Sah and her colleagues stress that indust
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