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RCP calls for end to “culture” of drug-firm freebies

2 February 2009

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The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is reportedly calling for an end to the “culture” of doctors receiving freebies from drug firms over fears it could sway their judgment.

The relationship between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry has been the subject of a wide-ranging inquiry, led by the RCP and due to be published in full this week.

According to the BBC, the report will recommend that drug firms stop giving promotional gifts to doctors.

Although General Medical Council guidelines say that doctors must not accept anything that could influence their judgment, drug companies are allowed to offer small promotional gifts such as pens or surgical gloves and pay expenses for educational meetings.

The report suggests that doctors feel more valued by drugs companies than the NHS, and said that this was one of the reasons “that practitioners turn to industry and become dependent on its gift culture”.

It adds: “Acting on this single recommendation alone would do much to rebalance the relationship between medicine and industry to one based on equality and mutual respect.”

However, Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association’s ethics committee, said that it should be up to clinicians to decide whether to accept a gift, as occasionally doctors’ practices received equipment that could benefit patients.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Royal College of Physicians

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