Medical School Department Heads Have Ties With Pharmaceutical Companies

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About 60% of department heads at medical schools and teachinghospitals in the U.S. have personal financial relationships withpharmaceutical or medical device companies, according to a studypublished on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. For the study -- led by Eric Campbell, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School-- researchers sent a survey to department heads at all 125 accreditedmedical schools and the 15 largest teaching hospitals in the U.S. Abouttwo-thirds of department heads responded to the survey.

Accordingto the study, 27% of respondents said that they recently had served aspaid consultants, and the same percentage said that they had served ona company scientific advisory board. In addition, about 21% ofrespondents who headed departments of medical specialties with closerelationships to patient care said that they had served on an industryspeaker bureau, the study found.

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According to Campbell, the study indicated that pharmaceutical andmedical device companies "are involved in every aspect of medicalcare." He added that the companies use their financial relationshipswith physicians to promote the use of products not necessarily in thebest interests of patients.

Jerome Kassirer, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine,said, "I was appalled by the results," adding, "No one knew that somany chairs of medicine and psychiatry were paid speakers. We've neverhad that data before."

However, Alan Goldhammer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of Americasaid that the study did not indicate a problem with the financialrelationships between the companies and the department heads and thatthe companies sought those physicians because of their expertise(Tanner, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/17).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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