So long, samples

The Carolinas HealthCare System is nearly halfway through its first year of zero free drug samples, reports the Charlotte Observer.  Dr. William Sugg, the medical director of the 600-member CHS physician network, told the Observer that though some of the physicians are “violently opposed” to the new rule, the system made the change out of concerns over both safety and the marketing influence. 

“If it wasn’t influencing prescribing habits, why would they be doing it?” Sugg said of sample hand-outs.

The Trees for the forest: Stanford paper praises policies

And it’s a pat on the back for Stanford Medical School, which the Stanford Daily editors say “has beaten the AAMC to the punch” with its 2006 conflict of interest policy.  Well, that’s one way of looking at it – it’s possible, though,  that movement toward strong conflict of interest policies by early adopters like Stanford helped create momentum that influenced the AAMC task force findings.  

According to the editorial, a working group at Stanford is now looking at industry involvment in continuing medical education.

Tech-ethics in AAMC guidelines

Though there was a flurry of coverage on the new AAMC guidelines, which prescribe a ban on all industry gifts, this week Modern Healthcare zeroed in on a different part of the recommendations that discussed healthcare IT – electronic medical records and e-detailing, for example. From the Reader’s reading of things, seems like the recommendation in question amounts to: technology is medical education is important – let’s talk about it more.

State savvy

The USA Today opinion blog says that the states with gift bans and disclosure laws have the right idea when it comes to pharmaceutical generosity toward MDs.  “While each of the state programs has its flaws,” the editors write, “the forced transparency is a sensible first step toward curbing abuses.”

Speaking of transparency…

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act has undergone some changes in the Senate as members prepare to attach it to this year’s Medicare bill.  Eli Lilly has come out in support of the amended version, in which the reporting threshold was raised from $25 to $500, the start date moved back from 2008 to 2011, and which would, if passed, preempt existing state disclosure laws beginning in January 2010. 

Read coverage in the Indianapolis Star and The Hill for more.

And for the weirdest idiom tweak of the week, this article on the co-opting of news by drug marketers takes the grain of cake:

“When health care experts appear on 24/7 news stations to promote the latest gastric bypass surgery, viewers should take their announcements with a large bear-hug of salt.”