Pharma And Continuing Medical Indoctrination
Q: Why does medicine have a problem?
A:Because industry pays for well over half of the expense of doctors' continuing medical education. Virtually all the continuing education departments in hospitals, medical centers, and medical schools rely on drug-company funding. Everybody does it, and when four drug companies gave the Massachusetts General Hospital's Psychiatry Department $6.5 million dollars to spread its educational expertise, the reaction was muted. Professional societies are equally dependent on drug-company money. They rely on grants for operating expenses, for running enormous annual meetings, and for developing treatment recommendations for practicing doctors. Societies solicit funds by peddling chunks of their annual meetings. For sale: company tote bags, a rodeo, a barbecue, or a cocktail party. Drug companies also pay individual doctors to speak at national meetings, medical center conferences, and restaurant back rooms. A Boston physician lectures in a fine restaurant within walking distance of Yale Medical School; a top physician joins 200 others in a drug-company sponsored seminar about a single drug, with the promise that he will become a company-paid speaker.
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