Support From Industry
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
Many eyecare and contact lens practitioners tend to take the vast amount of industry support they receive directly or indirectly with little notice. Ironically, many of them expect it and have adapted to it, or they may even expect more of it while at the same time avoiding it like the plague. An example of this would be a practitioner expecting a company to support a local society meeting, while at the next big meeting avoiding the company booth to avoid the "sales pitch."
Just a few examples of the support from industry are
- Support for professional association and continuing education meetings
- Support for academic programs with awards, scholarships and travel grants
- Support for student activities
- Gifts of books and small instruments
- Receptions at large and small meetings
- Advertising in professional journals and trade magazines
- Free trial lenses
- Sales representative efforts.
Some of you may read this list and say you truly appreciate these efforts and can think of many more. Some of you may read this list and think that some of this sounds like a bribe as the lay press is often tempted to "expose."
Do manufacturers try to wine and dine influential people in the field and high volume practices? You bet they do. Do these manufacturers try to influence what lecturers say from the podium in continuing education programs? Take it to the bank. Do those in the audience of these programs have sensitive enough noise detectors to filter out the promotional from the factual? Do readers of articles sponsored by a company with an inevitable outcome have the ability to find the valuable message? I believe they usually do.
I certainly defend the manufacturers' First Amendment rights to try to get their message out without bribing the practitioner and within FDA guidelines. In the end, it's the practitioners' responsibility to act ethically. How is this ethical behavior determined? By deciding if their actions are in the patients' best interests or their own.