Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Cleaning up the System

By Kristi Coale
WebMD Feature

April 10, 2000 (San Francisco) -- One fact jumps out of the paper published in the January 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association: the ignorance of residents (trainees) and practicing physicians regarding guidelines concerning their contacts with drug companies. According to three studies cited in the paper, only between 23% and 50% of residents knew of these policies, while 62% of doctors said they knew of at least one guideline. Clearly, an ongoing awareness campaign needs to be part of any new policy. Other proposed reforms include:

  • Physician associations, continuing medical education associations, and drug companies should develop one set of industry-wide standards regulating appropriate contacts and the involvement of drug companies in medical education.
  • Medical colleges should monitor and develop policies for medical students and residents attending company-sponsored conferences. Currently, they can accept travel scholarships from companies to attend such conferences.
  • Medical schools should develop formal courses to teach residents and medical students to critically analyze drug marketing techniques and product claims.
  • Physicians should disclose potential conflicts of interest and be guided in their actions by whether they would be willing to have their junkets, perks, and financial associations made public.

In 1997, when the FDA relaxed its rules regarding direct-to-consumer ads on television, drug companies began buying up airtime in record amounts. To counter pressure on doctors from patients responding to the ads, the March 6, 2000 issue of Health Affairs suggests the following reforms:

  • Drug companies should provide understandable, jargon-free product information that gives equal treatment to a drug's side effects and its benefits.
  • Individual physicians and medical associations should monitor consumer ads for accuracy and balance and should tell their patients about the purpose of such ads -- to bolster sales.
  • Congress should fund studies that examine how direct-to-consumer ads affect health care costs and the quality of prescribing.

Recommended Related to Drugs and Herbs

Questions for the Pharmacist When Filling a New Prescription

Is this exactly what my doctor prescribed? How often should I take this drug? What should I do if I miss a dose? Does it matter what time of day I take this drug? Is there anything I should avoid while taking this drug (such as driving or alcohol)? How will it interact with other prescription or over-the-counter drugs I am taking? How will it interact with vitamins, herbal supplements, or foods? What side effects should I watch for? What should I do if I have a bad re...

Read the Questions for the Pharmacist When Filling a New Prescription article > >

Kristi Coale is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist who specializes in science and medical issues. Her work has appeared in Salon,Wired, and The Nation.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

man rubbing painful knee
Causes, warning signs.
feet
Solutions for 19 types.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
Live and thrive.
couple kissing
What do you know about locking lips?
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
man with problem
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.