Interaction between providers, manufacturers remains high

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Apparently, there's no keeping away pharmaceutical sales representatives from medical trainees, students and residents, finds a new survey from Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Despite the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services recent release of the Sunshine Act final rule, the national survey shows efforts to curb interaction between the two groups haven't entirely succeeded.

Even with efforts by medical schools and academic medical centers to restrict access of pharmaceutical sales representatives to medical students, they're still receiving meals, gifts and industry-sponsored educational materials, according to the survey done by Harvard medical students set to be published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"In medical school and residency, as trainees are learning the fundamentals of their profession, there is a need to ensure the education they receive is as unbiased as possible," Aaron Kesselheim, a health policy researcher, said Tuesday in the researcher announcement. "However, it is well known that promotional information and gifts from pharmaceutical companies can encourage non-evidence-based prescribing.  Though many institutions have tried to insulate trainees from these effects, trainees' exposure to industry promotion is still quite high."

The survey involved a randomly selected subset of more than 2,000 medical students and residents representing each and every medical school in the United States. One-third of first-year students and more than half of fourth-year students and residents reported receiving industry-sponsored gifts, Brigham notes.

Some thought the interactions provided them with valuable education, but recognized the bias; others supported measures further restricting access of industry sales representatives to themselves and fellow trainees.

After months of urging from Congress, CMS issued the Sunshine Act final rule in early February. It required drug and device manufacturers that receive government reimbursements to collect data on gifts and payments to teaching hospitals and physicians, starting on Aug. 1. CMS has said it recognizes the collaboration between providers and manufacturers but maintains that "conflicts of interest can influence research, education and clinical decision making."

To learn more:
- read the announcement from Brigham and Women's Hospital

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