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