Doctors tackle ethical issues at CEJA open forum

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 3, 2006

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AMA delegates shared their thoughts on gifts from industry and nontherapeutic human enhancement at the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs' open forum at the Association's Annual Meeting last month.

A survey given to delegates asked, among other things, whether the AMA's monetary limit of $100 on gifts to physicians from industry was too stringent. While some doctors said the $100 limit deprived them of their ability to make judgment calls on the propriety of industry gifts, most delegates said gifts to practicing physicians are a trivial matter compared with industry sponsorship of academic programs, clinical trials and principal investigators. The house did not adopt a related resolution proposed in the Reference Committee on Amendments to Constitution and Bylaws that would have allowed physicians' spouses to attend industry-sponsored continuing medical education events.

The ethical issues of nontherapeutic enhancement will become more prevalent as new interventions are developed and patients ask doctors not to treat disease, but to enhance their characteristics and capabilities, said Robert M. Sade, MD, CEJA vice chair, in introducing the topic. Is it OK, Dr. Sade asked, to give human-growth hormone to a boy who lacks a medical condition but appears destined to be only five feet tall as an adult? Delegates urged CEJA to investigate the matter and propose ethical guidance to deal with such situations.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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