There's been a lot of talk in my corner about interests.
I was reading The Guardian this weekend which was saying that drug companies influence doctors through gifts and that this influence isn't adequately disclosed.
It's human nature that when someone is kind to you and gives you a gift you want to be kind to them. If they're wishing for you to prescribe more of Drug X and give you a gift, you're more likely to prescribe Drug X. There's research that shows this to be the case, even though most prescribers believe they're not suggestible and not influenced by drug reps or gifts. The evidence is that they are.
So how do prescribers deal with this? Are patients informed that the pharamceutical company of Drug Y has visited 17 times this year, left £300 worth of gifts and brought in food for a few team lunches but we don't think it affects our use of Drug Y?
In our Trust every 12 weeks we've got to sign a statement of all gifts and hospitality that drug reps provide. Increasingly it's easy. I've never yet had anything to sign for and as time passes that's the case for more and more of us.
The only way I can be certain I'm not influenced by drug companies is to not see them. So I don't. And all my study leave is paid for by the Trust, not by a drug company. I don't accept any gifts from drug reps, not even a biro.
So I'm not sure how representative The Guardian's piece is, nowadays. Drug Reps can no longer enter our premises unless invited to by a Consultant, so we simply don't have contact with them any more.
That way, when my colleagues or I'm talking with patients about their treatment, we can be wholly up front in knowing that our prescribing choices aren't influenced by pharmaceutical companies' machinations.
I remember hearing a quote once:
"That is the bitterness of a gift, that it deprives us of our liberty"
A sentiment which I try to remember in a professional capacity, I believe it serves as a good mantra. But then one can never have enough biros.....
Here in GP land we see representatives from pharmaceutical companies 3 days a week. They bring food, which we eat. They bring cards and pens and placemats and toys and so on, which I don't accept. They bring studies which I don't read or trust. By eating their food I know I'm being influenced. I wonder how much it will affect my prescribing in future, even though I can't remember trade names at all... am looking forward to hospital-based practice next year, where this particular ethical issue rarely arises!
Or post-it notes.
There is a website for reformed pharma junkies
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