Top Doctors Take Stand Against Pharma Marketing 'Swag'

A prestigious peer-reviewed journal is proposing taking a hardline stance on what it calls the "pervasive" funding relationship between drug and medical device companies and professional medical associations.

In a "special communication" in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of nearly a dozen prominent physicians write that no pharmaceutical and medical device company logos should appear on any gifts or trinkets that the firms distribute at annual group meetings and conventions. Company and product names are often plastered on free tote bags, pens, pads, keychains, you name it.

That's just one of 10 recommendations to eliminate conflicts of interest — or the appearance of them — made by the doctors who penned the piece for JAMA.

Among the other proposals is a call for medical associations to accept no money from drug and medical device companies outside of advertising and exhibit hall fees and to stop selling any product endorsements. For example, the article says the American Academy of Dermatology "is prepared to give its seal of approval to certain suncreen products, charging a sizeable fee for the endorsement."

One of the authors of the JAMA article is Cleveland Clinic cardiology chief Dr. Steven Nissen, who says he and his wife donate all of the industry money he gets to their favorite charities.

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