Boston Medical Center Tries to Unplug Doctors from Free Handouts

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

UMass Memorial Medical Center is taking a stab at one form of cancer that permeates the medical profession – free “bribes” from drug companies and medical device makers.

A new cutting edge policy “prohibits doctors and other clinical staff from eating meals paid for by companies; bans all gifts, from candy to medical journals; stops drug companies from giving money directly to individual physicians and departments for educational programs; and places a complete ban on doctors joining company “speakers bureaus” to give talks about products.

Let’s hope this type of program catches on around the country and becomes the norm – it would cut down on many thousands of unnecessary deaths and drug-related serious injuries due to fraudulent drug company promotion of off label drug use.

The obstacles for broad public implementation of such policies are huge, as Dr. Daniel Lasser, head of family medicine and community health at UMass Memorial said, “It will be a dramatic change for some physicians.”

Hospitals risk doctors jumping ship or may not be able to attract new doctors when their gravy train of free handouts, including expensive dinners and vacations is cut off.

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