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In Defense of Industry-Physician Relationships

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The objective was to examine the economic, ethical, and legal foundations for conflict of interest restrictions between physicians and pharmaceutical and medical device industries (“industry”). Recently academic medical centers and professional organizations have adopted policies that restrict permissible interactions between industry and physicians. The motive is to avoid financial conflicts of interest that compromise core values of altruism and fiduciary relationships. Productive relationships between industry and physicians provide novel drugs and devices of immense benefit to society. The issues are opposing views of medical economics, profit motives, medical professionalism, and extent to which interactions should be lawfully restricted. Industry goals are congruent with those of physicians: patient welfare, safety, and running a profitable business. Profits are necessary to develop drugs and devices. Physician collaborators invent products, refine them, and provide feedback and so are appropriately paid. Marketing is necessary to bring approved products to patients. Economic realities limit the extent to which physicians treat their patients altruistically and as fiduciaries. Providing excellent service to patients may be a more realistic standard. Statements from industry and the American College of Surgeons appropriately guide professional behavior. Preservation of industry-physician relationships is vital to maintain medical innovation and progress.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, Georgia, USA; Department of Surgical Services, Medical Center of Central Georgia, Macon, Georgia, USA

Publication date: 01 September 2010

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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