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Communications to the Editor |

Industry and Professional Medical Societies FREE TO VIEW

Mahadevappa Hunasikatti, MD
Author and Funding Information

Fairfax Hospital Fairfax, VA

Correspondence to: Mahadevappa Hunasikatti, MD, Attending Physician, Fairfax Hospital, 3700 Joseph Siewick Dr, #404, Fairfax, VA 22033; e-mail: mhunasikattimd@aol.com



Chest. 2002;121(1):308-309. doi:10.1378/chest.121.1.308
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To the Editor:

I share the concerns of Varkey, as given in “Time for Introspection” (April 2001).1 While commercialism is rampant in all aspects of our society, it is imperative to look at ourselves as a profession. But what should be done?

I have attended annual meetings of the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Thoracic Society, and other professional societies. I do think that the American College of Chest Physicians, in particular, has done an excellent job in disseminating the information and continuing medical education (CME) that are absolutely necessary for any practicing physician, and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education has fulfilled the mission as stated.2

But should decisions be based on idealism alone? Should we ban all advertisements and/or sponsorship of any CME once and for all? What do the members of the American College of Chest Physicians think about the total banning of all sponsorship? My brief anecdotal experience suggests otherwise. Idealism may dictate that banning all sponsorship by pharmaceutical agencies will look good in the public view; but pragmatically, survival of CME programs at the current stage may not be feasible.

Why should we scorn the pharmaceutical industry? Are we angry at (jealous of) the huge profits of the pharmaceutical industry? Before we start criticizing the industry as whole, we should look at the enormous cost of bringing a single drug to the market. Extraordinary medical and legal implications have clearly made it impossible to bring drugs to the market at a far lower cost. Finally, it is the society, as defined eventually by the acts of Congress, that would decide the future of both medicine as well as the pharmaceutical industry. It is time for all of us in the medical profession not to view the pharmaceutical industry as a rival but as a necessary partner in health care.

Let me list the minimum necessary memberships and subscriptions (in my opinion) for a pulmonary critical care physician: American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, Society of Critical Care Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, county and state licensing, etc. How many pulmonologists, intensivists, and internists, in these days of Health Care Financing Administration regulations and high overhead costs, would be willing to take over all the memberships and journal costs. (Those journals, of course, would not take any advertisements from drug companies in any form!)

I believe that anonymous reader surveys will be the best approach for this controversy. The adage “to lean neither to the left nor to the right, but to remain in the center,” is probably best for the American College of Chest Physicians.

References

Varkey, B (2001) Time for introspection.Chest119,1255-1256. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
 
Lever, M Considerations in the relationship between the American College of Chest Physicians and industry.Chest2001;119,1257-1259. [PubMed]
 

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References

Varkey, B (2001) Time for introspection.Chest119,1255-1256. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
 
Lever, M Considerations in the relationship between the American College of Chest Physicians and industry.Chest2001;119,1257-1259. [PubMed]
 
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