Pharmaceutical industry support not desirable but frequently accepted by residency program directors

Feb 22, 2010

Most directors of internal medicine residency training programs would prefer not to accept pharmaceutical support for the residencies they oversee, but more than half report doing so, according to an article in the February 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Over the past two decades, the impact of pharmaceutical industry marketing on the professionalism and prescribing practices of physicians has gained national media attention," the authors write as background information in the article. Several professional organizations have issued guidelines for appropriate relationships between physicians and the industry. Because medical residents are at a particularly formative time in their career, separate guidelines were issued in 2002 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

"Despite such attention, a nationally representative description of the current landscape of pharmaceutical industry support to residency programs is not known," write Laura L. Loertscher, M.D., M.P.H., of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and colleagues. To assess current attitudes and practices, the researchers analyzed data from a survey of 381 U.S. internal medicine residency program directors conducted in 2006 and 2007.

Of the 236 program directors (61.9 percent) who responded to the survey:

  • 170 (72 percent) expressed the opinion that pharmaceutical support is undesirable.
  • 132 (55.9 percent) reported accepting pharmaceutical industry support.
  • Those who accepted industry support did so in several common forms, including food for conferences (90.9 percent), educational materials (83.3 percent), office supplies (68.9 percent) and drug samples (57.6 percent).
  • Half reported that the final decision to accept industry support rested with them, whereas the other half named another final decisionmaker, such as a hospital administrator, chair of medicine or institutional oversight committee.
  • 153 (64.8 percent) worked at institutions that had established formal written guidelines, whereas 69 (29.2 percent) had implemented a specific curriculum to educate residents on these interactions.
The proportion of program directors accepting industry support was much lower among those who reported finding it unacceptable (22.7 percent) vs. those who found it desirable (72.7 percent) or not desirable but acceptable (71.2 percent). In addition, acceptance of support appeared to be associated with a lower rate of program graduates passing the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), one indicator of program quality.

"In addition to the important influence of program directors, residency program practices are likely affected by institutional history, available financial support and the culture within individual academic environments," the authors write. They also note that previous studies reported funding acceptance rates of 88.6 percent in 1990. "Although all of the underlying reasons are not yet fully elucidated, it is clear that, in the face of attention around conflict of interest with pharmaceutical support, internal medicine residency program directors have taken a less permissive stance and acceptance of industry funding has declined."

Explore further: Continued reliance on Windows XP in physician practices may threaten data security

More information: Arch Intern Med. 2010;170[4]:356-362.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

11 hours ago

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

Italy scraps ban on donor-assisted reproduction

Apr 09, 2014

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday struck down a Catholic Church-backed ban against assisted reproduction with sperm or egg donors that has forced thousands of sterile couples to seek help abroad.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.