Managing Physician Relationships with the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry uses very sophisticated methods to market and distribute their products, both to physicians and direct to patients. It can become very problematic when physicians and other health care practitioners are used as instruments to carry out their marketing operations – problematic because this can undermine one of the most fundamental principles underpinning good quality health care: that ethical and effective care can only be provided when medical advice and recommendations are evidence-informed and free from undue biased.  What happens when pharma/food industries influence how physicians are informed and the manner in which they practice medicine? Dr. Ritika Goel wrote an excellent post addressing this last April. 

In an attempt at protecting the high standard of care offered to patients at Kindercare Pediatrics, we have developed a policy to help navigate this challenge. I would like to share this policy information with our extended community for 2 main reasons:

  1. Kindercare Pediatrics’ patients and clients should have access to this information.  They should know that our team endeavors to make evidence-informed health recommendations without undue bias.
  2. I am hoping that by sharing this policy information, fellow physicians might reflect further on this important issue and consider implementing similar policies for their practices.

Summary of Policy Points:

  1. Kindercare Pediatrics DOES NOT endorse physicians meetings with industry representatives. 
  2. Kindercare Pediatrics DOES accept free medication samples for distribution to patients. These samples are to be reasonably-priced over-the-counter products. To avoid any misperception of preference, reasonable attempts are made at maintaining stock of multiple brand names of the same medication (i.e. Tempra/Tylenol, Advil/Motrin, etc.). All samples are kept behind closed cabinets and without any labels or brand-names visible. Orders for samples and the coordination of deliveries are carried out exclusively by the office manager and/or operations manager.
  3. In keeping with the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, Kindercare Pediatrics DOES NOT accept free infant formula samples for distribution to patients. 
  4. Kindercare Pediatrics DOES NOT endorse nor promote any industry-sponsored events (sponsored lectures, lunch/dinner meetings, etc). This includes posting advertisements on any walls in clinic and/or conveying any information about industry-sponsored events via email, fax, text, telephone, and/or social media platforms representing Kindercare Pediatrics.
  5. There may be extenuating or specific circumstances where Kindercare Pediatrics may make exceptions to these rules. Any such situation will be considered by the managing director.

I am keen to receive feedback about this.  Please feel free to leave comments below.