Doctor Training Aided by Drug Industry Cash

This post was authored by Rodd Santomauro and posted to The Eye Opener on February 24th, 2010.

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Title have you wondering?

This article, as posted on the New York Times website yesterday, highlights a survey performed in 2006 and 2007, which shows that the majority of medical residency programs to train doctors in internal medicine in the United States, accepted financial support from the drug industry.

The Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine conducted the survey. Responses were returned by 236 of the nation’s 381 internal medicine program directors, who together train more than 22,000 doctors.

Of special note in the survey results, the authors wrote, programs where fewer graduates passed tests from the American Board of Internal Medicine — “one indicator of program quality” — were also more likely to accept the assistance.

Dr. Furman S. McDonald, a co-author of the survey report and director of internal medicine residency at the Mayo Clinic, said it was unclear whether the lower test scores indicated a lack of overall support for the residency programs that took industry money, or a negative effect from the information being imparted by the pharmaceutical industry.

“As the pass rates went down,” he said of the new doctors’ test scores, “the odds of accepting pharmaceutical support went up.” Dr. McDonald called for more research in that area.

Residency programs in internal medicine typically last three years after medical school, “a particularly formative time for physicians,” the study said.

The article goes on to state that, although 72% of the survey respondents said drug industry financing was not desirable, many within that group took the money, anyway.  The reason?  According to two-thirds of the directors who reported taking the money, it was due to “inadequate financing from other sources.”

Who could possibly ban such pharmaceutical financing?  The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, that’s who. According to the article , the council declined comment.  Let’s hope the council doesn’t wait too long to step in and investigate this troublesome survey.

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