Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Academic Capitalism Watch I: Stanford Restricts Drug Marketing in Medical Education

Stanford University's program in medical continuing education will, according to the New York Times, announce today that it will no longer permit drug companies to pick and choose the continuing education courses they support. Going forward, any drug company wishing to support medical continuing education will contribute to a general pool. It can support the continuing education effort, but can no longer shape it to deliver its own carefully tailored marketing messages.

Dr. Philip A. Pizzo, dean of Stanford’s School of Medicine, said in an interview that the school wanted to take a firm stand on the issue, even if it meant that drug and device companies might no longer contribute to the educational effort if they could not specify which classes they wanted to support.

“I want to make sure we’re not marketing for industry or being influenced by their marketing,” Dr. Pizzo said.

The Times states that doctors have grown accustomed to getting their continuing education classes free and getting a nice lunch thrown in as an added inducement. "Separating commercial influences from doctor education might require doctors to pay their own way," the Times adds, "which some doctors have said they would resist."

You heard that! Feed me or you won't even be able to drag me to continuing education! How is that for entitlement? Corruption breeds corruption.

Dr. Murray Kopelow, chief executive of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, said that Stanford’s new policy was part of a growing push in medical education to further separate crucial medical information from marketing messages.

“It’s a good plan, and it’s a big deal that a place like Stanford has adopted it,” Dr. Kopelow said. “When this is all over, medical education will not be the same as what it’s been.”

Actually, medical education may be taking a small step back to what it was until recently, an honest and professional attempt (not without its own biases, of course) to educate doctors and keep them up to speed.

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