Doctors should be required to turn down offers of golf outings, most meals and other freebies from pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers, and disclose consulting and speaking fees, the state Division of Consumer Affairs recommended today. The Division, led by Attorney General Anne Milgram, urges the Board of Medical Examiners and the Board of Pharmacy, the state boards that license physicians and pharmacists, to adopt these rules to strengthen public confidence in New Jersey’s medical professionals.
The report follows an agreement Milgram reached this spring with the Synthes, Inc. that requires the medical device maker to disclose any future payments it makes to physicians conducting clinical trials on its devices, as well as any investments held by physicians in the devices they test.
“It is critical to minimize the potential for conflicts, and it is critical that patients are made aware of any financial relationship between a physician and a pharmaceutical company or medical device manufacturer,” Milgram said. “Such relationships could bias medical decision-making.’’
The report recommends prohibiting doctors and pharmacists from accepting tuition for a medical education program, lodging, gifts such as art work and DVDs, meals at promotional dinners or tickets to a sporting event.
The report also urges that doctors be required to report any money earned through consulting fees or research funding exceeding $200 over two years.
“Doctors, however, should receive items that provide a direct benefit to benefits – such as samples or anatomical models for use in examination rooms – and things of value that indirectly benefit patients by advancing physician learning or legitimate research goals,’’ according to the division’s report. Doctors also should continue to accept free samples of medications and pass them on to their patients, the report said.
The Medical Society of New Jersey’s president-elect, however, thinks the proposal unfairly targets physicians instead of the deep-pocketed companies.
“The state chooses to regulate 33,000 physicians rather than go after a few large companies,’’ said Donald J. Cinotti, an ophthalmologist in Jersey City. “New Jersey is the only state in the nation that chooses to regulate tens of thousands of individuals and allow large companies to escape scrutiny.’’ Star Ledger.