The University of Iowa announced new rules prohibiting physicians from accepting free drug samples and handing them out to patients. Also doctors and other health care workers will be prohibited from accepting gifts and must disclose financial remuneration paid by private medical companies that can create a conflict of interest with reporting research results.

“At least 25 public and private academic medical centers now have “strong” conflict-of-interest policies, according to a Sept. 3 commentary in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, by David Rothman and Susan Chimonas of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University.

The institute’s searchable database for conflict-of-interest policies at medical centers and university hospitals, at http://www.imapny.org/coi_database/, shows the U of I’s proposed restrictions are stricter than some, but not the most severe.”

Des Moines Register, January 22, 2009 - U of I beefs up conflict of interest rules for doctors

And if you’re wondering how much a physician can be paid take a look at the Des Moines Register’s article on January 23, 2009, U of I to bar free drug samples, gifts.

“Last year, three U of I orthopedic surgeons were included on a list of doctors across the country who accepted money from the manufacturers of artificial hips and knees.

Dr. John Callaghan, a U of I surgeon, received $2.6 million in 2007 from DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson company that makes replacement joints. Callaghan said the payments were above-board royalties for other doctors' use of joint replacement devices he helped develop. The U of I knew of the financial ties, but did not know how much Callaghan made in royalties because the university-wide conflict-of-interest policy does not require employees to report payment amounts.”

That’s a lot of money. Then again it seems Doctor Callahan earned it with his participation in developing the joint replacement. Or at least someone earned the right to the royalties. What I’ve always wondered is how State of Iowa employees are allowed to get paid a salary by the State of Iowa, use state equipment and laboratories to develop patentable products and then the employee get to keep the royalties. Why aren’t the royalties owed to the State of Iowa?

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