AMA investigates drug-maker gifts

CHICAGO: The American Medical Association, responding to negative

press coverage about drug company gifts to doctors, has launched a

$700,000 member ethics education campaign.



The association last week began mailing information packets to medical

groups, medical schools, and others in the medical profession, restating

the group's 11-year-old ethics guidelines on accepting gifts from drug

makers. The packets include print PSAs that medical groups can run in

their trade publications. A website on gift guidelines was also

established.



The AMA's internal communications staff is handling work on the

campaign.



While it is designed to combat bad public relations, the new campaign is

generating negative publicity for the association because of how it has

been funded - with $645,000 from industry groups, including drug

companies.



Accepting drug company money, said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public

Citizen Health Research, was a "stupid, bad-judgment decision for the

AMA. The message they're sending to doctors is it's ok to take money

from the drug industry."



Former AMA president Ron Smoake countered that the campaign was a joint

effort run by the AMA and the pharmaceutical industry.



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