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May 11, 2007

U-M Health System wins national recognition for policies that limit industry interaction with faculty & staff

ANN ARBOR, MI – The University of Michigan Health System was one of the first medical institutions in the country to place strong limitations on the interactions between medical staff and representatives of companies that make or sell medications, medical devices or other products. It was also one of the first to eliminate the use of drug samples in clinics and hospitals.

Dr. BilliNow, UMHS has been recognized for that leadership by the American Medical Student Association. In its first ever scorecard of medical schools and their affiliated medical centers, AMSA gave only five institutions a grade of “A” – and one of them is UMHS.

“As the nation begins to pay more attention to the relationships between physicians and staff of major medical centers and the companies that make medical products, we are proud to be recognized in this way,” says John Billi, M.D., U-M associate vice president for medical affairs and U-M Medical School associate dean for clinical affairs, who helped lead the development of the UMHS policies.

Since September 2002, UMHS has banned the use of samples of prescription and non-prescription drugs from all of its clinics and hospitals, which make up the vast majority of locations at which UMMS faculty physicians and residents practice.

In March 2003, UMHS implemented an across-the-board policy that substantially increased the restrictions on interactions between representatives of pharmaceutical companies and other “vendors”, and UMHS physicians, physicians-in-training, students, and other clinicians. All UMHS physicians are on the UMMS faculty.

In addition to setting strict conditions for in-person visits and other contacts, these changes included a ban on gifts, “leave-behinds” and food and drink. They apply to representatives of all companies involved in soliciting, marketing, or distributing information regarding the use of medications, products, equipment and services. In late 2006, the U-M Women's Hospital Birth Center banned sample bags of infant formula and related materials that had previously been given to new mothers.

“At first, we had lots of concerns when we eliminated drug samples and limited industry representatives in our health facilities,” says Billi. “But we worked through the concerns over a year’s discussion. Because of that discussion, our new rules are now accepted by all.”

A grade of "A" on AMSA’s scorecard means that a medical school has a comprehensive policy restricting pharmaceutical company representatives' access to both the medical school and medical center. The other “A” schools are at Stanford University; the Univ. of California, Davis; the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Yale Univ.

For more information:
UMHS industry policies
AMSA scorecard

Written by: Kara Gavin

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