Last week, Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) adopted a new policy to protect patients by limiting the influence of pharmaceutical marketing on faculty and physicians’ decisions. The “Johns Hopkins Medicine Policy on Interaction with Industry” will take effect on July 1, 2009 and adds new restrictions on how JHM’s doctors, scientists, students, and staff interact with the pharmaceutical industry.
One of the new rules prohibits the acceptance of food or entertainment from pharmaceutical companies. Another new rule bars JHM personnel from entering into consulting agreements under which they are paid but have no real duties. The policy also declares that JHM will no long accept free samples of medicines beginning in 2010. An exception is provided, however, for samples that do not feature a brand name or manufacturer's name and that will be used for patient education.
The policy also limits pharmaceutical industry representatives’ access to JHM facilities. Representatives may visit individual physicians only at the physicians’ invitation, and the interaction must be restricted to areas that are not dedicated to patient care.
Similarly, industry representatives, who are also healthcare professionals or scientists, can provide information about their companies’ products only at the invitation of a faculty physician, according to the new policy. Presentations must occur in faculty-supervised settings that allow information to be evaluated critically.
The new policy recognizes the importance of industry gifts in supporting education, research, and patient care, but stipulates that such gifts must be deposited in a departmental account. Furthermore, the gifts must be given without conditions, and no quid pro quo arrangement will be accepted.
Continuing medical education (CME) is also addressed in the new policy. All industry-supported CME courses for credit must be managed by the Hopkins Office of CME. Noncredit educational events supported by industry will be reviewed to ensure that they comply with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s standards. In addition, the policy requires that the industry sponsors of all noncredit educational courses be disclosed.
The new policy prohibits Hopkins employees from speaking at industry-sponsored programs such as speakers bureaus if a company has control over the speech or uses a Hopkins faculty member as a company spokesperson. When employees give presentations that are funded by industry, the support must be fully disclosed. Employees may act as consultants for industry and offer scientific advice as long as compensation is offered at fair market value and the written contract does not conflict with JHM’s policy on conflict of commitment.