Ethics demands declining Superbowl tickets

March 1, 2005

Dr. Dave and his friend Steve have known each other since ninth grade. They attended each other's weddings and have been together for many of life's good and bad moments. Steve also represents a publicly traded company that makes pharmaceutical products used by dermatologists.

Physicians and pharmaceutical manufacturers have traditionally enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. In its most simple form, this interaction has the exchange of value for value. Thus, in the traditional drug sample programs, manufacturers furnish physicians with the newest medications and educate physicians on their use, while physicians treat their patients with their new drugs and furnish the manufacturers with consumers - the patients - for their products. This relationship, unfortunately, can be contaminated in that it may unduly influence a physician to prescribe one drug over another if the reward for using that drug becomes overly great.

Rising scrutiny Regulators have become concerned because such activities can improperly influence a physician's therapeutic conduct, disadvantage consumers or even result ultimately in increased medication costs. This has led to increased scrutiny of relationships between pharmaceutical manufacturers and physicians.

David J. Goldberg M.D., J.D. Dr. Goldberg is the director of Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey, director of Mohs surgery and laser research, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and adjunct professor of law, Fordham Law School.