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Pharmaceutical Companies Banned from Giving Gifts at Stanford

Stringent new rules will soon ban gifts like coffee mugs, notepads, pens and tote bags adorned with drug company logos at the Stanford University Medical Center offices.// The rules, expected to take effect from Oct. 1 will not allow physicians and medical students at Stanford University to accept any gifts, irrespective of its size from any medical representative selling drugs, medical devices or related products.

Besides this the university will also abolish the long time tradition of allowing medical staff and students to accept free lunches, as when a pharmaceutical company, provides a meal along with an educational seminar staffed by the company's marketing employees.

Besides this under the new guidelines, a company sponsoring an off-campus event can't control the speaker selection or content, nor are they allowed to have any of its representatives present at the event. In addition industry sales or marketing staff can only visit clinics or the university's two hospitals with an appointment.

Dr. Jordon Cohen, just previous president of the Association of American Medical Colleges said, "It's a very big step, given the magnitude of the activity going on."

This year the association launched an initiative to examine conflicts of interest between academic medical centers and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

According to a Jan. 25 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association on conflicts of interest in medicine, of the estimated $21 billion spent annually by the pharmaceutical industry on marketing, 90 percent is believed to be spent on physicians through gifts free meals, drug samples and sponsorship of seminars.

Cohen, who co-authored the JAMA study said, "The industry spends billions of dollars to 'inform' physicians." "They know it works. Why else would they spend all this money?"

Objecting the new proposals the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America,
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