The Cost of a Free Meal?
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
A significant amount of news and discussion has recently been devoted to the relationship between medical practitioners and the pharmaceutical and device industry ("the industry"). The medical community at large has faced challenging issues that have arisen over the past several years. Topics being discussed have included the appropriateness of gifts or meals to practitioners, consulting arrangements, research grants and grants sponsoring continuing education. Organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians and others in addition to the drug industry itself (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — PhRMA, for example) have issued guidelines for such activities. The Federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services, has become very active in this discussion with increasingly more oversight, guidance and potential legislation, with likely monitoring and open reporting of company-practitioner exchanges to come.
The industry certainly relies on the medical community to disseminate important clinical information about drugs and devices. Legitimate concern has arisen about the potential implications any new regulations may have on industry's support of bona fide continuing education — which is required of most of us. In this regard, most have adopted the standard that industry-supported educational activities must maintain independence of commercial interests.
Contact Lens Spectrum is a clinical publication that provides a forum for up-to-date cornea and contact lens information. We make every effort to maintain credibility as a premier publishing source of this information. In doing so, we strive to ensure that all material we publish — whether a clinical commentary or a clinical research topic — meets a certain standard. Everything we publish is reviewed by our editorial team and often by peers in the field to ensure that we meet accurate, reliable and non-biased publishing standards. We ask all authors to disclose any relationships with industry, and we then disclose those relationships to our readership. It's critical that I emphasize that the industry is and will always be vital to our publication. We will to continue to work together with industry in light of any new regulations to preserve our strong relationship. This will ultimately allow us to continue to provide you with the clinical information you need to practice to your very high clinical standards.