Happy 2009! As promised, I’ll start adding photos to brighten up the page, and maybe illustrate a point at times. This one is a mid-winter tribute to spring.
Also, starting this month, I will serve as chair of the medical center’s CME committee. As I posted in October, continuing medical education (CME) is both required to maintain medical licensure, and is rife with potential conflicts of interest when funded, as most of it is, by industry. It will be interesting to be on the front lines dealing with these challenges.
In related news, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) recently revised and expanded its voluntary restrictions on interactions with physicians. The full text is available here. The relevant New York Times article emphasizes the new moratorium on branded office items such as pens, notepads, and coffee mugs. While my view is that the onus more appropriately rests with the medical profession itself to resist commercial influence — and accordingly some groups have tried for years to convince doctors not to fill their offices with promotional giveaways — this is a step in the right direction. By my reading, though, the new PhRMA standards are considerably more limiting than the prior version in other areas as well. New restrictions on wining and dining doctors may ultimately wield a bigger impact than the disappearance of cheap pens with drug logos.
Much more commercial influence remains, as an editorial in today’s New York Times points out. Meanwhile, in the current issue of the New York Review of Books, Marcia Angell, former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, presents the field of psychiatry as Exhibit A in a shocking review of undue industry influence on research and practice. We still have quite a ways to go.