One fourth of family medicine residencies "pharma free," says survey

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Most US family medicine resident programs have limits on drug industry interaction with doctors, and a quarter shun doctor-company contacts altogether, said a survey by Georgetown University Medical Center and the American Medical Student Association.

The survey, begun in 2008, went out to directors or coordinators of all 460 accredited family medicine residency programs and drew responses from nearly two-thirds (62.2%). Around half said that they refused drug samples (52.1%) and industry gifts or food (48.6%). Sixty-eight percent said they did not allow industry-sponsored residency activities, and 44.1% denied industry access to students and residents at the family medicine center. Seventy-five residencies, 26.2% of those responding, were designated as “pharma-free.”

By comparison, in 1992, 90% of family medicine residencies allowed industry support, said Georgetown's Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, who is also director of drug industry watchdog PharmedOut.

Industry-physician contacts have come in for withering criticism in recent years, particularly from academic medicine, and these results, though served up by a pair of institutions prominent among conflict-of-interest hawks, suggest that the criticism is having an impact.

“Family medicine is leading the way in closing the door on pharma” said Dr. Fugh-Berman in a statement. “Our survey allows for comments, so we know that some residency programs report recent changes in plans or practices to limit industry interaction. Although some faculty and some residents are opposed to these limits, it's clear that industry influence on family medicine residencies is waning.”
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