Stanford joins growing list of hospitals to ban gifts, samples and reps

Stanford University Medical Center has joined the growing cadre of academic medical centers limiting the access of sales reps to its halls and forbidding its doctors from accepting industry gifts and drug samples. The medical center is set to adopt a new policy banning Stanford physicians and scientists from accepting gifts from companies, “however small,” a posting on the medical center’s Web site said. The new policy is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1. Stanford doctors are currently forbidden from receiving “substantial” gifts valued at over $100 under guidelines developed by physician groups such as the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and the American Medical Association. The new policy goes on to state that pharmaceutical sales and marketing representatives will be granted access only to non-patient care areas, such as research laboratories, by explicit invitation only. Harry Greenburg, professor of medicine and chair of the Stanford School of Medicine task force that developed the guidelines, said in a statement he hopes they will eliminate industry influence on “how we train people or give clinical care.” Greenburg further stated that the presence of sales reps in patient care areas at the medical center is considered inappropriate and unnecessary in an era of digital technology that allows physicians to access up-to-date medical literature readily on the Web. Additional components of the Stanford policy contain provisions prohibiting faculty from publishing articles in medical journals ghostwritten by industry representatives–a  reinforcement of existing policy mandating that faculty disclose related financial interests in any papers they publish or presentations they make. Other medical centers with similar rules include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which earlier this year banned pens, notepads and free pizza as gifts and requires sales reps to make appointments to call on physicians. Yale University also implemented a policy placing a ban on all gifts and on-campus meals from drug reps.

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