These days everyone wants to know exactly what's passing between pharmaceutical companies and doctors: Down to the cheapest pen, they want to know how doctors might be influenced by pharma. So, to fight the impression that pharma is exerting an undue influence on some or all physicians, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has introduced new, voluntary guidelines for how pharmaceutical companies deal with physicians.
If they are following the guidelines, pharmaceutical companies will not give out office supplies, clothing or other gifts with logos on them. This lines up with the legislation that several states, including Massachusetts, have passed or considered banning such gifts. The guidelines also prohibit the companies from paying for doctors' meals.
While dealing with the small amounts involved with these sorts of gifts, though, the guidelines have neglected to deal with the bigger issues of how much physicians are paid by pharmaceutical companies for speaking appearances. These payments have been a major source of controversy for several psychiatrists in recent weeks.
To learn more about the guidelines:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece