Physicians Group Nixes Gifting

Oct 22, 2008
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

The Wisconsin Medical Society (WMS) last week passed a policy stating that the 12,400 practicing physicians in the organization would no longer accept gifts or payment from pharmaceutical or drug device companies. The WMS move reflects a growing trend, with a number of states pushing for gift bans; academic centers across the nation, particularly the medical schools, already have similar rules in place for students.

According to the policy, “Physicians shall accept no gifts from any provider of products that they prescribe to their patients such as personal items, office supplies, food, travel and time costs, or payment for participation in online CME. A complete ban eases the burdens of compliance, biased decision making, and patient distrust.”

The WMS states that:
• Sampling should be limited or replaced with a voucher system
• Doctors must disclose their relationships with a drug companies
• CME providers can’t accept money from drug companies directly
• Physicians should not be speakers for pharma companies
• Physicians can’t be credited in articles when a pharma-paid ghostwriter is used
• Rather than give gifts, pharma will have to contract physicians to collaborate on products and the contract will list the specific compensation

In an interview with Pharm Exec on Tuesday, WMS President Steven Bergin said that the policy has been in the works for a few months and received the unanimous approval of the organization.

“It has always been something in the back of mind as to what is professional from an ethics standpoint, not only in terms of my relationship with pharmaceutical companies and health device industry,” Bergin said. “I saw the lavish gifts the pharmaceutical industry would provide to physicians for little in return.”

Bergin said that the pharmaceutical industry is on board, and that the bylaws are similar to the ones approved by the American Medical Association. “If you take a look at the last five years—the expensive gifts and the trips just aren’t there any longer,” Bergin said. “Pharma is concerned that there won’t be conversations between reps and physicians, but that’s not true. We plan to maintain our discussions.”

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