April 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm 1 comment

This just came across our radar from Dail-eNews from MDSI: 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (Washington, DC) plans to recommend a ban on all free samples, gifts, travel, dining and ghost writing offered by drug and medical device companies for physicians, staff, and students. The association’s recommendations are not binding, but are likely to be widely observed. To ensure that uninsured and charity patients can receive free samples, it will recommend that medical schools set up centralized systems for accepting the samples. (Italics added.)

I’m support anything that brings greater transparency to medical care and education practices.   But this is an example of well-intentioned guidelines that seem simple enough on the surface, but have costs buried inside.  

To their credit the AAMC recognizes that this isn’t necessarily a simple request: 

If central management is not thought to be feasible, or would interfere with patient access to optimal therapeutics, the academic medical center should carefully consider whether or not there are alternative ways to manage pharmaceutical sample distribution that do not carry the risks to professionalism with which current practices are associated.  

No matter what route the medical school chooses there will be cost.  The cost?   It’s not the opportunity cost of lost income to the physicians, staff, and students, etc.   The cost is in the recommended “centralized systems for accepting the samples” or even “alternative ways to manage.”   In other words, the medical school is being asked to create an administrative process for accepting and releasing free samples for uninsured/charity care cases.   Enbedded in that would certainly be documenting the process (donor and recipient) and qualifying recipients.  

Someone will have to fund this.   It may be absorbed in the medical center operating costs or it may be absorbed in redirecting the supplier/vendor marketing and sales dollars.  

TNSTAAFL.  There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.  

Entry filed under: Ethics Policies, Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals.

A Shot in the Dark I Want This

1 Comment Add your own

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