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University of Maryland School of Medicine and Medical Center Implement New Policies Governing Physician/Industry Relationships

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

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New Guidelines Received Strong Support Among Faculty and Staff Physicians

Physician leaders of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center have approved new policies to guide doctors, researchers, residents and students in their interactions with the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. The new policies, which have gone into effect at both institutions, mirror the recommendations made last year by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The medical school and hospital are among the first 25 academic medical centers in the United States to pass such guidelines.

“These policies will serve as an important resource for our faculty as they navigate the increasingly complicated intersection of medicine and industry,” says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“The health care industry is part of the medical community. We have to be engaged with
it, and there are appropriate ways to do that. These new, more comprehensive guidelines further ensure that we only support evidence-based practice and decision-making that is not subject to any potential or perceived influence from the pharmaceutical or medical device industries,” says Dean Reece.

The new policies are comprehensive, addressing such areas as gifts to individuals, distribution of pharmaceutical samples, access to patient care sites by pharmaceutical representatives and physician participation in industry-sponsored events. The policies were unanimously approved by the School of Medicine Council, a group of about 100 representatives from various departments of the school. They were also adopted by the Medical Staff Organization of the University of Maryland Medical Center, whose members are also on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“These new policies will help us to maintain the confidence of our patients, ensuring that we are always acting in our patients’ best interest. The policies reflect ethical principles that are important in providing the highest quality of patient care and research,” says Reuben Mezrich, MD, PhD, president of the Medical Staff Organization. He adds that the new policies have received strong support from the medical staff. Dr. Mezrich also is professor and chair of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the School of Medicine.

A growing number of medical schools and academic medical centers are implementing similar policies to guide physicians in their dealings with industry, relationships that are both complicated and necessary. The policies create a consistent message and apply to students and faculty both on and off campus and at affiliate sites.

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