Corporate Compliance

Another academic medical facility gets tough on vendor relationships

Compliance Monitor, July 11, 2007

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has drafted a get-tough policy that would prohibit its physicians and other employees from accepting almost all freebies--from sample medications to pens and notepads--from drug and medical device companies, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Industry influence can result in "unacceptable conflicts of interest," the draft says, adding that financial support or gifts, even in modest amounts, "can exert a subtle but measurable impact on recipients' behavior."

The draft proposal calls for establishing a database of manufacturer assistance programs and investigating the feasibility of a voucher program that would allow patients to obtain medication at no cost to them. Providers unable to find drugs for patients through those means could make special requests for manufacturers' samples.

The proposed policy is similar to those adopted by other academic medical centers. It would apply to about 50,000 people -- faculty, staff and students of the university's Schools of the Health Sciences and other professionals and staff employed or contracted by UPMC's U.S. operations, the Post-Gazette says.

Those who don't comply could face sanctions including written reprimands, fines or loss of hospital privileges. Industry representatives could receive written warnings or be banned from medical system property.

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