Monday, January 02, 2006

AMSA claims to take moral high ground

The American Medical Student Association’s PharmFree campaign was featured in USA Today. The campaign encourages doctors and medical students to distance themselves from the pharmaceutical industry by refusing to accept gifts or support from drug companies. They say it’s all about ethics, evidence and doing what’s best for patients. But, as I have recently demonstrated, [1] [2] this grandstanding belies an agenda which promotes pseudoscience and bogus health claims.

It’s also supposedly about conflicts of interest. Says the USA Today article: “Behind the modest rebellion is the belief that taking gifts from drug companies creates a conflict of interest for doctors. The argument: To accept handouts is to feel indebted, and doctors indebted to drug firms may not be prescribing medicines based solely on what's best for their patients.” If that’s the argument, why does the AMSA accept support from the anti-science based American Holistic Medical Association? The AMSA document “Successful Ways Past Retreats Found Moola” (which can be downloaded from the AMSA web site’s section on Humanistic Medicine) says the American Holistic Medical Association gives out grants for humanistic medicine “retreats.” Moreover, according to the document, in return for the grant “You have to contact the student rep and agree to give out AHMA (American Holistic Medical Association) materials at the retreat….”

So the AMSA, champions of ethics and professional integrity apparently have no problem accepting money in return for distributing “holistic” propaganda. The USA Today piece goes on to say that student representatives plan to visit 40,000 practicing physicians this year hoping to “pique the consciences of future colleagues.” I hope they pay me a visit. I have some questions to ask.

The link to the USA Today story was via Kevin MD.


mark said...

Hello, I'm a first time reader of your blog and I think it is well-written.

I just wanted to state the point of view that although AMSA may not be the best practitioner of it's message that should not take away from the validity of the message.


R. W. Donnell said...

You raise an excellent point, which I have addressed in a follow up post.