APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., recently asked members for feedback
concerning our relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, and in her
president's column in the October 3 issue, she quoted my response:"
Let's be bold. Let's make the rules. Let's not wait for the drug
companies or the Congress to tell us what to do." I am writing this
letter to put my comments in context.
Doctors are held to a higher standard. We have not lived up to that higher
standard, and the people of the United States and their representatives in the
government are asking for an accounting. I would like to see APA lead the way
with recommendations to psychiatrists on their interactions with drug
representatives. Why do drug companies pay for doctors' dinners at speaker
programs? Because doctors wouldn't go if they didn't pay. If you disagree,
let's see what happens if drug companies don't pay and see how many doctors
show up. The public is uncomfortable with doctors eating free food and
drinking free alcohol while engaged in "medical education."
Let's start with a "no free food" policy. That would lead to no
doctors attending speaker programs, quickly followed by no speaker programs.
Eliminating free food would thus eliminate another area of public criticism,
doctors paid by drug companies to talk to doctors.
Let's be bold. Let's make the rules. Let's not wait for the drug companies
or Congress to tell us what to do.