Pharmas adopt voluntary marketing guidelines banning doctor gifts

Taking control of what may have otherwise been forced upon it, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to a voluntary code of conduct that bans gifts to physicians. The rules, the Code on Interactions with Health Care Professionals, was written by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry's trade organization. (If these power brokers have decided that it's time to give up the gifts, they must have been all but certain that private groups and legislatures were going to force an end to the practice.) The code includes a provision asking CEOs of the large pharmaceutical firms to certify in writing that they have policies and procedures in place that will encourage compliance with the new rules.

All of this is well and good, from the standpoint of critics who'd like to see pharmaceutical companies step back from their physician relationships. However, they're still not completely happy, as the code still allows drugmakers to shower dollars with big-ticket consulting and speaking agreements and invite physicians to fancy dinners in the name of drug education. Also, the rules still allow pharmas to set up breakfasts and lunches for medical office staffs.

To learn more about the new rules:
- read this article from The New York Times

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