Time and over again, doctors have been pampered by provision of gifts, tickets to sporting events, meals and vacations by pharmaceutical companies as a part of the promotional campaign. In addition, doctors without jobs have been provided consulting jobs.
What do they expect in favor? Nothing more than a prescription of their latest expensive medication. In an attempt to prevent such unethical exchanges, certain formulations have been adopted in the July 2002 guideline. According to the guideline, the maximum permissible valve of the gift should not exceed $100 and should be relevant to the clinical practice of the physician.
A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has examined the effect of such an association between the pharmaceutical companies and physicians. Such acts are believed to diminish the integrity of the medical profession.
Several alarming results have been found from the trial. The provision of small gifts such as pens, letter pads and meals can have a significant influence on the physician prescription. The request of additions to standard drug supplies in hospitals is more likely to be made by doctors who have accepted gifts such as meals and funds from drug manufacturers.
In addition, physician drug prescriptions are to a large extent determined by meetings with medical representatives or ties with drug manufacturers. It also accounts for increased drug care costs. The trend is unhealthy as old generic forms of the drug might still be effective compared to the new generation, expensive drugs.
The study authors have recommended that doctors to forbid any gift to restore the integrity of the medical profession. Drugmakers are also prohibited from providing financial assistance for medical education. Any collaboration between the pharmaceutical company and the physician is discouraged.
In line with the above guideline, Kaiser Permanente, a California based concern banned any such gift/ service exchange by physicians. Doctors associated with the concern prescribe highly marketed drugs in a much lower frequency compared to their counterparts, without compromise on the quality of the medical care.