Any doctor wanting to practice medicine in New Jersey may soon have to refuse lunches from drug industry representatives and any gift worth more than $200 (US), if new rules proposed by the state's attorney general are adopted.
The proposals were among 22 recommendations included in a Dec. 3 report to Attorney General Anne Milgram
While a handful of states have fought financial conflicts in medicine by regulating drugmakers and threatening hefty fines, the proposals would make New Jersey the first to make doctors the targets of enforcement.
The proposed regulations "are designed to ensure that patient care is guided by the unbiased exercise of doctors' best judgments," Milgram said in endorsing the report's proposals. "It is critical to minimize the potential for conflicts, and it is critical that patients are made aware of any financial relationship between a physician and a pharmaceutical company or medical device manufacturer. Such relationships could bias medical decision-making."
The report calls on the state medical board to require that 25 per cent of continuing medical education credits come from "evidence-based educational programs" that refuse industry grants. The report also targets ghostwriting, a widespread practice in the drug industry, by recommending that doctors be barred from claiming authorship for articles they did not write. The report also aims to stop doctors from misrepresenting their financial interests on disclosure forms.
On the industry side, the report recommends tight controls on what is known in the pharmaceutical industry as “data mining,” or tracking physician prescription information. All physicians would have to be notified when renewing their licenses that they can opt out of having information about their prescriptions sold by pharmacists to healthcare information organizations, which collect information on prescriptions for pharmaceutical company marketing.
As well, the report recommends that pharmacies be required to maintain documentation that doctors have consented to the sale of their prescribing information. The report calls for legislation to restrict the use and sale of prescriber information for commercial purposes.