Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In the Trenches--Local FP's Anticipate Future without Drug Dinners

I hope what I am about to share is a sign of the times. It is very easy to wonder in this line of work--is all the action happening at the level of the leadership of the academic medical center or major organizations like AAMC? Is anything really changing in the trenches--or, as today's political jargon has it, down on Main Street?

I am a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and as such am automatically enrolled as a member of the state and local chapters of AAFP. When I moved to Texas in 2006, I therefore became a member of the Texas and Galveston County chapters of AAFP. I did not attend meetings of the local chapter for two reasons. First, I was not involved in practice but rather in administration and teaching, and so had met very few of the local family docs. More important, I soon learned from the meeting notices that all their meetings were dinner meetings and were subsidized by drug reps. As a signatory to the No Free Lunch Pledge I could not attend (or at least would have to brown-bag it if I did).

I was therefore very intrigued to receive the notice below today (key point in italics, added):

The Galveston Chapter of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians invites you to:
An Organizational Meeting
There is no educational program. We will have a round table discussion of the future of our chapter and the venue, frequency and format of meetings. Drug company sponsorship will probably go away.
This is an important decision making meeting.

Given that the new PhRMA code of conduct says that "modest" meals will continue as far as the drug companies are concerned, I am not sure exactly why the leadership of the society is certain that drug company sponsorship for meetings will disappear--unless it is because of the tightening of controls over not mixing up education with marketing, so that if CME credit is awarded for the educational presentation, then overt drug company sponsorship will not be allowed.

Nonetheless I pass along this anecdote as perhaps a hint that the times they are a-changin'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your confusion is easily cleared up with the most cursory perusal of the new PhRMA Code (hint hint): Individuals associated with sales & marketing can only pay for a modest meal for meetings in a physician's office or within the walls of an AMC. Out-of-office or off-campus meals can only occur when a formal presentation is given by a member of a company's speaker's bureau.

Since it is unlikely that the meetings you are describing include a formal product presentation, pharmaceutical industry sponsorship would not be allowed under the new code.

Mystery solved?