Doctors Addicted To Freebies

A study published in the Internal Medicine Journal reveals that many Australian medical specialists seek gifts from drug companies. The study of 823 specialists, Melissa Fyfe writes in the Sydney Morning Herald, "found that personal gifts offered to doctors were valued up to $40,000 and included wine, flowers, a 'spa' dinner, harbour cruises, tickets to the movies, the circus, concerts, opera and sporting events." Six specialists sought funding for the salaries of nurses, one for A$80,000 (US$60,000). The authors of the article argue that there is a need for "more conservative standards on gifts and support for travel." A spokesman for the peak drug industry lobby group, Medicines Australia, said the group welcomed scrutiny of the "relationship between companies and health care professionals." However, last week the industry objected to a new provision requiring disclosure of subsidies provided to doctors at 'educational' meetings.