Survey: Fewer doctors taking freebies from drug companies

Los Angeles Times | November 8 – Fewer doctors report accepting drug samples, gifts, meals and all-expenses-paid trips from drug companies, according to a new study published Monday that comes amid mounting concerns over the potential for conflicts of interest in medical practice.

Still, arrangements between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry continue to be common; 84 percent of physicians reported some type of tie with drug companies in 2009, compared with 94 percent in 2004.

The report in the Archives of Internal Medicine is based on a survey filled out last year by 1,891 family physicians, internists, pediatricians, cardiologists, surgeons, psychiatrists and anesthesiologists. A similar survey was completed by 1,662 doctors in 2004.

Comparisons show especially sharp falloffs in the number of physicians reporting being paid by drug companies for continuing medical education or attending meetings in expensive or exotic locations; 18 percent of doctors reported receiving these reimbursements in 2009, down from 35 percent in 2004.

Also, fewer doctors report speaking on behalf of drug companies (8.6 percent in 2009 versus 16 percent in 2004), consulting for pharmaceutical firms (6.7 percent versus 18 percent) and participating in drug company advisory boards (4.6 percent versus 9 percent).

The results “may be signaling the slow death of the primary marketing model for drug companies, which is paying doctors to influence their behavior,” said Eric Campbell, the study’s leader and director of research at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital.


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