Someone said once that ministers all have just one sermon that they feel they need to give, and then they spend their careers finding umpteen different ways to give that same sermon every Sunday. I don't think that's true, but I'm starting to worry that I have just one blog post, because here I am, once again thinking about full disclosure and the ease of being corrupted.
Roni Caryn Rabin had an article in yesterday's New York Times ("Doctors Urge End to Corporate Ties" -- online at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/health/policy/02journal.html) reporting that a group of prominent physicians and researchers "urged professional medical groups to 'wean' themselves from industry support and move toward a complete ban on corporate money for things like souvenir pens, tote bags, and the sponsorships of committees that develop clinically important guidelines and training programs."
Can a doctor really be corrupted by a "gimme" pen? Probably not. But don't you, as a patient, want to be 100% sure that your doctor is prescribing Medication X, as opposed to Medication Y, because she truly thinks that X is the best drug for your situation, because she's reviewed the scientific evidence and taken your other prescription(s) into account?
Do you even want the thought to enter your mind that she might have a financial incentive? Perhaps as well as having a private practice, she does research on your particular disease, and some of the cost of conducting research is paid for by Pharma Giant A. If Medication X is produced by Pharma Giant A, what are you going to think?
Think I'm exaggerating the situation? Consider this: in yesterday's Boston Globe (online at http:www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/04/02/some_who_set_policy_tied_to_industry/), Carey Goldberg reported that "Virtually all the psychiatrists who wrote the latest clinical guidelines for how to treat depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia had financial ties to drug companies..." Virtually all. Now, do you really feel just as confident taking that prescription med?