Gift restrictions reaffirmed

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 5, 2004

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A resolution seeking to loosen restrictions on gifts to physicians from pharmaceutical sales representatives was defeated by the AMA House of Delegates at its Annual Meeting last month. The resolution had been proposed by the District of Columbia delegation, which called the AMA's current guidelines "cumbersome, onerous and inconsistent."

"It seems to imply that physicians could be bought for a couple of steaks," said Washington, D.C. orthopedic surgeon Peter Lavine, MD. "These guidelines don't make a lot of sense."

AMATrustee Peter Carmel, MD, disagreed. He noted that the U.S. Inspector General had warned that adhering to the drug industry's gift policies was not a guaranteed shield against prosecution for violating anti-kickback laws and that AMA guidelines were less stringent than the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America's code.

"If you heard a threat in that sentence, I'm sure the Inspector General intended it," Dr. Carmel said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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