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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, September 6, 2007

BU and BMC tighten conflict-of-interest rules

By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff

Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center today announced a strict new conflict-of-interest policy that will place hard limits on interactions between doctors and representatives from medical device makers and pharmaceutical companies.

Robert Restuccia, executive director of the Prescription Project, a Boston-based non-profit that promotes stricter conflict-of-interest policies nationally, said the university and hospital have adopted a model policy that goes further than many other institutions.

Boston Medical Center and the medical school, for example, now ban all clinicians from accepting personal gifts from industry, and meals funded by companies -- often a staple at teaching hospitals -- are no longer allowed on campus. Also, doctors who serve on committees that pick which drugs the hospital will use, are not allowed to have any financial relationship, including consulting agreements, with companies that might benefit from those decisions.

"This policy promotes the independence of our clinicians and establishes the highest professional standard of rigor and integrity in the care of our patients," BMC president Elaine Ullian said in a statement.

Restuccia added, "We see the pharmaceutical industry's marketing practices to physicians as undermining the practice of medicine."

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