Friday, February 03, 2006

Medical profession needs to insulate itself off from the drug companies

Good editorial from the New York Times:

In the wake of past reports of industry's influence over prescribing practices, medical and industry groups have issued guidelines defining appropriate behavior. But as an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association made clear last week, these guidelines are far too weak.

The influential authors called for a complete ban on all gifts, free meals and payments for attending meetings. They urged doctors to reject free drug samples because they are a powerful incentive to use medicines that are expensive but not more effective. And they called for a ban on consulting arrangements that entail no specific scientific duties.

These proposals are hardly onerous. Kaiser Permanente, a California-based managed care group, has adopted nearly all of the recommendations. Its doctors prescribe heavily marketed medicines far less frequently than most other doctors.