The American Medical Association, responding to its members’ concerns about the increasingly sophisticated information culled by PCRs from databases on individual physician prescribing patterns, introduced new procedures in July 2006 to give doctors some control over data access. Through the Prescribing Data Restriction Program (PDRP), individual physicians who enroll can stop PCRs and their direct supervisors from having access to their prescribing patterns. However, such data will still be available to pharmaceutical companies for marketing, compensation, and research. For starters, the PDRP allows the pharmaceutical industry to police itself. Physicians can also contact their state legislatures to sound the alarms.
Explore This IssueDecember 2006
Despite the pharmaceutical industry’s unwavering focus on getting physicians to prescribe their products at the highest possible levels, and the doctors’ need to keep them at arm’s length, the two groups are linked. Dr. Krouse points out that the pharmaceutical industry has “cleaned up its act in the last few years, doing away with inappropriate gifts and other egregious lapses.” The industry recently funded 13 unrestricted grants for American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy medical residents, allowing young physicians to explore academic medicine. Continually refining the relationship between the drug industry and physicians to keep it mutually beneficial is an ongoing challenge.
Teaching Medical Students to Handle PCRs
To help third-year medical students become aware of PCR influence on physician prescribing habits and professional behavior, professors at Wake Forest University teach a mandatory course for these students and other physicians covering:
- Typical physician–PCR interactions
- Appropriate uses of samples and gifts
- Validity and legal boundaries of PCR information
- Role plays
Prior to the course, 57% of the students were unaware that guidelines regarding interactions with PCRs exist, and 28% thought that there should be no restrictions on gifts including lunches, stethoscopes, textbooks, educational CD-ROMs, and sporting events.
At the course’s conclusion, both practicing physicians and students said they knew more about dealing with PCRs. Students surveyed indicated increased understanding of PCR–MD interactions, from 17.7% before the course to 43.2% after. For practicing physicians, 40.5% said they better understand such interactions after the course, whereas only 22.1% said so pre-course.
Source: Wofford JL, Ohi CA. Teaching appropriate interactions with pharmaceutical company representatives: the impact of an innovative workshop on student attitudes. BMC Med Educ 2005 Feb 8;5(1):5.
©2006 The Triological Society