A good report but one exception I have is the suggestion that ‘when one sees marketing reps in a doctor’s office, it automatically suggests that the doctor will likely be influenced by the company being represented’. The fact is, doctors’ offices obtain samples of new medications through the drug representatives for their patients to try. Unless the doctor does not offer sample medications for patients, the drug rep usually will need to be in the doctor’s office to obtain signature from the doctor for samples.
Most serious concerns are when doctors are paid to travel to exotic locations and at high fees to give lectures and teach workshops on behalf of manufacturers to other doctors. When in doubt, ask your doctor… clearly, directly and unapologetically.
Doctors should avoid any financial dealing with any hospital, device or drug company that places them in a position of conflict of interest. When a relationship does exist, it should be disclosed to the patient whenever a product of question is being prescribed.
I am surprised that ‘most of the doctors have financial relationship with medical manufacturers’. Sometimes doctors are asked to participate in panel discussions or surveys regarding treatments or products where the ‘subjects’ are not revealed to them – “blinded”, such as discussing ‘Treatment A’ vs. ‘Treatment B’ vs. ‘Treatment C’ etc. – In which case, the potential for conflict of interest does not exist.
Larry Ho, MD