This month, the Wisconsin Medical Society adopted a no-gifts, no-exceptions policy for its 12,000 plus members, stating that a “complete ban eases the burdens of compliance, biased decision making, and patient distrust.”  In addition, the policy prevents members from joining industry speakers bureaus, and recommends changes to drug sample practices that act as marketing tools for pharmaceutical companies.

In a statement, the society’s president Dr. Steven Bergin said, “This policy is strong and clear. It leaves no doubt that the society’s physicians want to prevent even the impression that a gift–no matter how small–could get in the way of a physician’s decision-making.” Hat tip to Pharmalot.

GlaxoSmithKline joined other pharmaceutical companies this week in agreeing to voluntarily disclose advisory payments to physicians and researchers, and an extra step, pledging to cap them at $150,000 per year, according to the Financial Times. The London-based drugmaker has been making the other kind of headlines lately, one of them being how busy it kept former Emory psychiatry chair Charles Nemeroff on its speaking circuit.  Ed Silverman at Pharmalot wonders why $150,000 is the magic threshold – a question that seems, these days, straight off the presidential campaign trail.

The New York Times reports this week that we may be seeing the inklings of a trend, as IMS health numbers show Americans bought less prescription drugs in the third quarter of this year for the first time in a long time – an admittedly small reversal (down less than one percent) of a decade-worth of chart-scaling growth. 

And the new conflict of interest policy being considered for adoption at the University of Minnesota Medical School is officially Out There, after being leaked last month to the Minnesota Daily. The policy would ban all gifts to faculty, students, and residents, and phase out industry support of continuing medical education.  Read the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for more.

And the FDA’s conflict of interest problem isn’t just Rx-related, says The Pump Handle blog. Quick review: the FDA convened an advisory committee this summer that decided, after reviewing new evidence, that the current recommendations for human exposure to bisphenol A are just fine, relying mainly on studies done by the plastics industry.  Now, a subcommittee is reviewing that draft decision – and reporters from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel discovered that the chair of the subcommittee, Martin Philbert, recently received a handy $5 million toward his research center in Michigan.  From whom? None other than retired medical supply-maker Charles Gelman. 

From the Journal-Sentinel, we know that Philbert didn’t report the donation to the FDA, but we sure hope he wrote a thank you note – before the donation, the University of Michigan Risk Science Center had an annual budget of just $210,000.