Health Care

Conflicts of Interest in Medicine: A Systemic Problem

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Doctors who are paid by pharmaceutical companies to promote the use of a particular drug or to recruit candidates into clinical trials should be required to disclose that information and how much they are paid.  Under the health care reform bill signed last week by President Obama, that disclosure will be required by law beginning in 2012.

 Why?  Consider how prevalent this practice has become:  it has been reported that 90 per cent of doctors have some kind of financial relationship with drug companies, which spend billions of dollars marketing their products directly to physicians.  See, for instance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/01/business/01payments.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y

The problem is systemic and extends even into the hallways of academic medicine.  The New England Journal of Medicine discussed that problem in a recent article:

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/362/8/669

Drugs should be prescribed because they give relief to a medical condition.  Not to fatten someone's wallet.