To the Class of 2013,
Congratulations on an incredible achievement; in a few short days or weeks you will be receiving your MD/DO degree and then embarking onto residency! While you undergo this transition, the field of medicine also is facing dramatic changes, both internally and externally. There has been increasing scrutiny on the objectivity of our judgement as physicians and how our relationships with industry can affect the trust relationship that is at the heart of the doctor-patient dyad.
Patients are skeptical of our relationships with industry and are concerned that they may compromise our ability to render effective and cost conscious care. In fact, studies have shown that when exposed to industry interactions such as gifts (even pens!), drug samples, free meals, and travel, doctors are more likely to prescribe costly name-brand medications and less likely to prescribe the cheaper generic alternatives. You might see this as a deviation from the evidence-based prescribing methods you learned over the past four years, while patients may see it as an erosion of trust and a higher bottom line cost for medical care in a world of skyrocketing healthcare costs.
If you can appreciate that industry interactions with medical professionals have the potential to affect the patient-doctor relationship, there here is the good news: part of the Affordable Care Act called the the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (“Sunshine Act”) requires manufacturers of drugs and medical devices to report the monetary value of gifts and payments to doctors to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, all of which will be posted on a publicly accessible website. This includes the costs of gifts, consulting fees, research activities, speaking fees, meals and travel. However, payments or other “transfers of value” to residents (you) will not be required to be reported. What will this mean for you?
Best wishes for success as you begin residency,
The PharmFree Steering Committee