OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s medical schools should publicly disclose physicians and biomedical researchers’ ties with the pharmaceutical, medical?device and biotechnology industries.
Cleveland Clinic and the University of Pennsylvania last month announced they would publicly disclose physicians and biomedical researchers’ industry ties.
Also, a voluntary, industry?initiated ban on gifts to physicians took effect Jan. 1. It prohibits branded gifts such as pens and coffee mugs and puts an end to expensive dinners.
The American Medical Student Association praised the ban but called for greater oversight. OKWatchdog also applauded the ban but joined the medical student association in calling for required disclosure.
“We hope this will mark the beginning of greater transparency regarding how drug companies attempt to influence doctors’ work,” said Jeff Raymond, executive director of the Oklahoma City?based nonprofit. “Drug companies’ most egregious practices, however, look to continue. The industry cannot be trusted to self?regulate.”
Handing out free samples; paying doctors to serve as consultants, conduct research and extol specific drugs; and plying doctors’ staffs with free lunches are not covered under the guidelines.
In 2004 the New America Foundation reported that only one?quarter of universities require their researchers to report conflicts of interest-a minimum of disclosure. “Disclosure doesn’t have to be forced on institutions; they would be
better served by voluntarily detailing their industry ties,” Raymond said.
The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine received respective grades of “D” and “F” for their conflict?of?interest policies on the medical student association’s 2008
Oklahoma State University does not have policies relevant to the scorecard, while the University of Oklahoma’s policies are strong in some places but could be improved in others.
In fiscal year 2006, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center received $27 million in research funds from drug companies, according to news reports.
“Our state’s medical colleges are saying, essentially, ‘Trust us.’ That’s not good enough when patients’ lives are at stake,” Raymond said, citing the confidential nature of conflict?of?interest oversight.
www.amsascorecard.org/institutions/9, www.pharmfree.org, www.amsascorecard.org/institutions/134