Doctors' relationships with the pharmaceutical industry have been scrutinized in recent years by academic institutions, medical associations, the media, and state and federal legislators, among others. Although physician involvement in the industry has appeared to decrease from 2004 to 2009, results of a survey published in the November 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine showed that the proportion of physicians receiving gifts from the pharmaceutical industry remains above 80 percent.
The study, by Eric Campbell, Ph.D., of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues, reported data obtained from 1,891 primary care and specialist physicians regarding the nature and frequency of their affiliation with the pharmaceutical industry. Primary care physicians included those in internal medicine, family practice, and pediatrics. Specialties surveyed included cardiology, general surgery, psychiatry, and anesthesiology.
About 84 percent of the respondents reported at least some type of relationship with industry in the prior year. These relationships and the percentage of physicians reporting them included receiving food, beverage, or gifts at offices: 70.8 percent; drug samples, 63.3 percent; reimbursements from meetings or discounted or free admission for continuing education, 18.3 percent; and payments for professional services to pharmaceutical companies, 14.1 percent.
In contrast, the overall self-reported rate of physicians' relationship with industry in a similar survey in 2004 was 94 percent, the authors reported. Psychiatrists were not included in that survey.
The study was funded by a grant from the Institute of Medicine as a Profession. An abstract is posted at <http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/170/20/1820>.