THE USE of gifts and other questionable marketing practices by pharmaceutical companies has been under heavy fire from both the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee and the American Medical Association (AMA).
A disabling salvo was fired last month, when the AMA's House of Delegates adopted, without dissent, ethical guidelines proposed by the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs that deem unethical the acceptance of vacations or cash to pay for travel expenses, gifts of substantial value, cash, and lavish meals and entertainment from pharmaceutical companies—marketing practices that have been liberally applied through the years to influence physicians' prescribing decisions. (See p 501 for the actual guidelines.)
The 100-plus member Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA) adopted these same guidelines 2 days later.
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The following week, the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, chaired by Sen Edward Kennedy (D, Mass), conducted 2 days of hearings in which testimony by