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February 5, 2009


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Questionable ethics are no longer in vogue, so we expect to see more of what Baltimore’s  University of Maryland School of Medicine and Medical Center announced yesterday: No more free pens! All gifts from pharma companies are banned, after the Medical Center issued guidelines limiting interaction with the medical industry. For details, this morning we chatted with Associate Dean Nancy Lowitt. Out of an abundance of caution, we didn’t bring flowers.


Here’s Nancy looking her most ethical. She tells us research linking physician decision-making with industry marketing is not conclusive, but strong enough that they began addressing the issue three years ago. Things kicked into high gear last March when the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) issued suggested policies. With support from students, physicians, and faculty, they limited pharma reps’ access to patient care sites, distribution of pharmaceutical samples, and physician participation in industry-sponsored events. Notepads, mugs, and Oxycontin Pez dispensers (OK, we made that one up) are gone, as well.

Apatoff Peters

Med school Dean Al Reece, who’s led the school since September ’06, tells us the health care industry is part of the medical community when it comes to biomedical research and advances in treatment. But he says these new rules ensure more evidence-based practice. Al will have plenty of say on future policy because he was just named chair of the Council of Deans for the AAMC. That’s one chair filled, but this photo suggests he’s still got some work to do.

More Paired Kidney Transplants

Heart-warming paired transplants were cool at first, but then everybody started doing it. (Last month, Washington Hospital Center, and now Georgetown.) But, this story has a twist: It’s the first one that involves a blood cleaning process called plasmapheresis. On January 6, G’town’s  Keith Melancon (left) performed the 4-patient procedure. One couple was husband/wife; the other, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. Without meeting beforehand, the wife donated to the girlfriend and the boyfriend to the husband. Keith says many people with “HLA sensitization or blood type mismatch” think they’re stuck on dialysis forever, but this new procedure is an option for many to explore.”

Medical Writer Curtis Raye enjoys writing about great ethics, and wishes he had more. Send gifts and story ideas to Curtis@Bisnow.com

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Arent Fox
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