BHN Exclusive: Mass gift ban takes a beating from ACRE


Thursday’s inaugural meeting of the Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators drew a full house to the Bornstein Amphitheater at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Members of the group believe that disclosure rules and gift bans for doctors – like the one that just went into effect in Massachusetts –  are too strict.  The meeting program describes the issue this way:

Under mounting pressure from interest groups, the media, and select government officials, academic medical centers have begun adopting restrictive conflict of interest policies that often sever productive relationships between industry and physicians involved in clinical research and educational outreach.

(See this Globe story for  background on the topic or click on the “research integrity” category to the left. Critics of industry support for academic researchers say it creates to conflicts of interest. Supporters believe it encourages innovation. )

So, withportraits of notable BWH doctors looking down on them, researchers, lawmakers and industry reps made a lot of jokes about the corrupting influence of pens with drug company logos. A sampling of the speakers found that they ranged from measured and informative to shrill and angry.

This from a session on the Massachusetts gift ban, which prohibits drug and device companies from marketing products by courting doctors with high end meals, Red Sox tickets and four-star travel.

–State Representative Michael J. Rodrigues, vice chairman of the legislature’s Committee on Public Service, said doctors need to be more involved in fighting the laws like the state’s gift ban law.

“I was very happy with the support I got from industry. But throughout the debate I was wondering – where are the physicians. “

–Sarah Elisabeth Curi, a lawyer with the Mass Medical Society, explained the new law and said the law will focus on industry compliance, not doctors.

 “No physician in Massachusetts is going to be arrested for not complying with the law”

–Dr. Carey D. Kimmelstiel, head of clinical cardiology at the Tufts University School of Medicine talked about the benefits of having clinicians give industry-sponsored talks. Preparing the talk educates the speaker. He or she gets feedback and an audience of busy docs gets a quick update.

 Dr. Henry R. Black  Hypertension Division, New York University Medical Center, President, American Society of Hypertension :On Value of Collaboration to Medical Training Programs & Professional Associations

There were also a few supporters of conflict rules and gift bans in the crowd, including former NEJM editor Arnold Relman, who offered post meeting comments. The American Medical Student Association– a group worried about conflicts  of interest for industry-funded professors  – also sent a few people. Nitin Roper, a University of Connecticut medical student, had this to say about the meeting.


Finally, here are some other reports on ACRE and the meeting: Postscript,  The Carlat Psychiatry Blog and Policy and Medicine


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