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May 21, 2007 - Image 3

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-05-21

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Monday, May 21, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

3

Sample policy boosts U' in rankings

RIAA
From page 1

By PAUL FIEHLER
For the Daily
Even as doctors nationwide face
criticism for their methods of pre-
scribing medicine and the U.S. Sen-
ate moves to tighten regulation of
the pharmaceutical industry, the
University Health System is gain-
ing national recognition for its eth-
ical prescription policies.
The American Medical Student
Association awarded the Univer-
sity Health System an "A" grade in
its national evaluation of 116 medi-
cal schools released May 10.
The University was one of five
schools whose health systems
received an "A" rating by the AMSA
- which gave 40 other health sys-
tems an "F" - in the association's
first annual PharmFree evaluation,
a nationwide campaign that rates
the precautions taken by American
medical schools to separate their
operations from the interests of the
pharmaceutical industry.
Medical Prof. Steven Bernstein
said the University was in the
forefront of limiting the influence
of pharmaceutical companies. It
prohibited University physicians
from distributing most medication
samples to patients in September
2002 and enacted regulations for
pharmaceutical representatives in
March 2003, he said.
Most other health systems did
not start enacting similar policies
until 2005 and 2006, Bernstein
said.
John Billi, the University's asso-
ciate vice president for medical
affairs, said he is proud of the Uni-
versity's national recognition for
regulating relationships between
University physicians and pharma-

ceutical representatives. All aca-
demic institutions should limit the
pharmaceutical industry's pres-
ence in their facilities for the ben-
efit of their patients and trainees,
he said.
Billi said pharmaceutical com-
panies only produce samples of
expensive, brand name medication
and that many doctors are prone
to prescribing medications they
receive samples of rather than look-
ing into more effective options.
"Almost never are samples the
preferred drug," Billi said. "If sam-
ples were the preferred drugs, then
we would be working hard to get
doctors to use them."
Not everyone at the University
immediately accepted the health
system's reforms, Billi said.
Many University doctors who
treat patients with financial diffi-
culties objected to the rule because
they thought that free medication
samples were in their patients' best
interest, Billi said.
"Pharmaceutical marketing is
one of several important ways for
doctors to receive the information
they need to make sure their treat-
ment choices are the right ones and
their patients are properlytreated,"
said a statement issued March18 by
Ken Johnson, the vice president of
the Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America.
But Billi said it's bad practice
for doctors to begin treatments
with expensive sample drugs that
patients will later have to pay for
because there are often cheaper,
equally effective generic drugs
available.
Bernstein said that in March
2003 the University forbade phar-
maceutical representatives from

giving gifts to staff members and
required them to make an appoint-
ment before visiting the hospital to
promote their medications. Phar-
maceutical representatives must
get departmental approval before
they can distribute informational
materials to the University, he said.
Retired Medical School Prof.
Jeoffrey Stross said that the school
has a responsibility to inform its
students about effective medica-
tions.
"It is not the responsibility of the
pharmaceutical representatives to
teach our students," he said.
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name "John Doe" until the trade
group issues a subpoena to the
University requesting the identi-
ties of the network users in ques-
tion. By law, the University must
comply with the RIAA's request if
the subpoena is valid.
"If it's not a valid subpoena,
we'll send it back," Bernard said.
Bernard said last winter that the
University has rejected some past
subpoenas from the RIAA after
determining they were invalid.
The University will only trace
the IP addresses in question if the
subpoena's validity is confirmed,
Bernard said

He said he does not know when
the University will receive sub-
poenas for the accused copyright
infringers' identities.
Before the RIAA can subpoena
the University for network users'
names, it must file the "John Doe"
lawsuits. Bernard said the trade
group could have issued the sub-
poenas at the same time it filed the
lawsuit, but chose not to do so for
reasons that remain unclear.
OnApril11, 20otheruniversities
also received pre-litigation settle-
ment letters, but it is unknown if
any lawsuits have been brought
against recipients at those univer-
sities who chose not to settle.

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