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Another Medical School Likely to Ban Speaking Fees

The Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine plans to recommend that researchers should no longer accept paid speaking fees from drug companies. The proposal is expected to be approved in about two months.  Some staff members who received lucrative compensation from drugmakers have voiced criticism.

The proposal comes a few months after the school received a positive, but qualified grade on the most recent American Medical Student Association annual report card that tracks medical school policies toward financial dealings with the drug industry. The AMSA noted its policy as deficient by failing to prohibit participation in speakers bureaus.

OHSU School of Medicine Dean Mark Richardson remarked that there is a conflict-of-interest potential that the school should eliminate. It has been reported that some of the school’s staff members make upwards of $50,000 annually as members of speaker bureaus.

OHSU’s decision is becoming a growing trend.  Over the past couple of years, various medical schools have tightened or adopted policies to limit industry influence or the perception of conflicts of interest.  According to the AMSA, as of last March, 102 medical schools out of a total of 152 – or 67% – were given a grade of A or B for policies governing interactions between drugmakers, faculty and students.  And of the 152 medical schools tracked, 17 have policies restricting speaker bureau fees.

There has been more focus in this area as the Sunshine provision of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect next year.  The Sunshine Act requires drugmakers to post payments exceeding $10 to physicians on their web sites, among other things.  However, the federal government has not yet issued a final rule for gathering and publishing the data.

If you would like to see if your physician is being paid by a drugmaker, much of this information can be found on ProPublica.org.

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