Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How do I Love PLoS Medicine?

Let me count the ways. I have to say that PLoS Medicine seems to have their act together more than any other general medical journal regarding discussing ethical issues, though I think the others have been doing good work lately.

Anyway, PLoS has an article by a Who's Who of medical ethics reformers (Mansfield, Lexchin, Jureidini to name a few) that you should really check out. I'll quote a few choice snippets to whet your appetite...

"The US Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education states that “residents must learn how promotional activities can influence judgment in prescribing decisions and research activities through specific instructional activities” [5]. World Health Assembly resolution 52.19 urges member states to “integrate the rational use of drugs and information on commercial marketing strategies into training for health practitioners at all levels.” However, a recent worldwide survey of education about pharmaceutical promotion in medical and pharmacy schools found that “in most cases ‥ students devoted one half day or less to this topic during their professional training; in nearly one third of cases, medical faculties devoted only 1–2 hours” [6]. That survey also found wide variations in objectives, ranging from aiming to “increase students' ability to extract beneficial information from drug promotion” to aiming to “increase students' use of independent information sources.”


"Box 2. Four Objectives for Education about Pharmaceutical and Device Promotion

All health professionals should be aided in the following ways:

  • Educated explicitly about decision making and evaluation of evidence and promotion.

  • Helped to understand that there is no proven method for enabling them to gain more benefit than harm from promotion.

  • Helped to understand their responsibility to avoid pharmaceutical and device promotion.

  • Educated explicitly about the most reliable sources of information."

My View: Ya think? Of course, we should be doing all of the above in medical education. Physicians in training also need to learn about research methods and statistics in much more detail. Medical education has clearly failed to produce physicians who understand how sloppy research designs and suspect use of statistics can make a mediocre product look good. I believe that better research training is as important as the above suggestions.

Read the whole article here. Hat tip to PharmaGossip.

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