Issue Date: May 4, 2009
Report Targets Financial Conflicts In Medical Research
Although collaborations between doctors and pharmaceutical companies can be beneficial, financial ties between them should be disclosed and gifts from industry to the medical community should be limited, a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concludes. The report encourages medical centers, journals, and professional societies to establish or strengthen conflict-of-interest policies, noting that such policies vary substantially among institutions. In addition, the report recommends that Congress require drugmakers and biotech firms to report, on a public website, payments they make to doctors and others involved in the medical profession. "It is time to end a number of long-accepted practices that create unacceptable conflicts of interest, threaten the integrity of the medical profession, and erode public trust while providing no meaningful benefits to patients or society," Bernard Lo, chairman of the IOM committee that wrote the report, said in a statement. Although it is unclear how many conflicts have actually resulted in biased decision-making or harm, the report recommends that drug companies stop wooing doctors with free lunches, free drug samples, and free medical refresher courses.
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