The recent disclosures of payments to physicians for speaking engagements, consulting fees, and even royalty payments have come under the scrutiny of industry critics. Some are probably even embarrassing to those in the industry. The publicity clearly has further raised visibility and concerns about the financial influence of the pharmaceutical industry. Here are 5 ways to eliminate the potential for Pharma Company financial influence:
- To eliminate the financial inducements of speaker fees associated with pharmaceutical industry promotional education programs, medical schools should provide free CME programs to rural or non-medical center community healthcare providers. To ensure a sufficient number of programs, there should be a national requirement that each medical school affiliated clinician (good speaker, expert, or not) be required to do six medical school sponsored CME programs per year outside their institution and preferably be given in rural areas.
- Medical School and university affiliated clinicians, in the spirit of independent research, should financially support drug company related trials without pay or compensation from drug companies (no university or institution overhead charges, no pay for staff, no lab fees, etc). Nominal ancillary pass-through expenses could be reimbursed. Clinicians should be required to publish in reputable journals and present the data at major medical meetings without drug company compensation.
- All Pharma requests of Medical School or university clinicians, researchers, or scientists for consulting expertise should be done free of charge (university subsidized) and should be fulfilled by priority of request and existing industry workload of the consultant at the time. No researcher could consult with the same company more than a cumulative 6 months in a given 5 year period of time. All related travel expenses, including meals provided, would be paid by the university and anything that resembled an exotic meeting location would avert attendance by the consultant.
- Medical School affiliated clinicians and university researchers or scientists could not benefit from any royalties or payments related to their inventions. All such payments would go to the Medical School or university general research fund to support ongoing research.
- If Medical School or university affiliated clinicians or executives, feel compelled to sit on Pharma Company Boards of Directors or Advisory Boards they should do so without compensation (this includes no stock or stock options). They should also pay their own expenses to attend meetings, including paying for meals provided.
You are probably saying, “These make no sense.”
Yet, industry critics sensationalizing the highly paid speakers and consultants or Medical Schools and universities going after sales representative pens, sticky pads, and free lunches are, in a very self serving way, distracting the public from the real financial influence of the pharmaceutical industry.
If they were serious about eliminating industry financial influence it would mean giving up hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars of industry support and compensation subsidies for Medical School and university affiliated faculty, staff, and their research programs. Because they have no other financial sources to replace the magnitude of this funding, Medical Schools and universities (and industry critics) have to ignore the fact that these financial subsidies from the Pharmaceutical Industry can have a far greater influence than a sticky pad, a free lunch, or a couple thousand dollars in speaker or consulting fees. firstname.lastname@example.org