Saturday, January 19, 2008

In the "It's a Nice Gesture, But . . ." Category

Our winner is: Trinket Round-up Day!

A Minnesota hospital system, eager to show how serious it is about containing drug costs and making prescription decisions based on science alone, has conducted a hospital-wide purge of notebooks, pens, post-it notes, and the like with drug ads on them.

This very admirable gesture netted over 18,000 items, all of which are now banned--that is, doctors are banned from accepting such items as gifts from drug company reps.

One hopes that lavish cruises, expensive dinners, and opulent parties are likewise banned, but such was not specified. In fact, one suspects that drug companies will find ways to "work with the system" (read: work around the system) in order to do what they've always done.

Predictably, a pharmaceutical industry spokesperson called the trinket sweep "Draconian."

But personally, I found the last two lines of the article to be the most telling:

Many of [the hospital's] items will be going to the health system of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon, which has three hospitals, and several rural health centers.

Irons said there shouldn't be a conflict of interest in Cameroon because the advertised drugs aren't available there.