The Spiriva Guy & PharmFree Update  

Posted in Advocacy & Social Justice, Education/Curriculum, Professionalism at 11:57 pm by Casey KirkHart

If you’ve been to Primary Care Lecture recently, you may have noticed a tall, dapper gentleman standing in front of the spread of Charro Chicken – that’s the Spiriva guy, a frequent guest by the medicine department to provide food during Primary Care Lecture. They organize┬áPrimary Care Lecture Series┬áduring the 2nd half of the year and do NOT have a PharmFree policy like we do.

As you all know, in 2006 our department (residents and faculty alike) voted to become PharmFree, and as our policy states our Department cannot prohibit you from partaking in Pharm food, only caution you to the dangerous influence that interactions with drug company reps can have our your clinical judgement and patient care (statements all supported by evidence).

In fact, in January 2009, we saw a new policy (entirely voluntary, mind you) put out by the pharmaceutical industry itself that limits its interactions with physicians. You will see much less Pharm swag; Pens, pads, squishy stress balls will be a thing of the past. Also, the policy states that FOOD MAY BE provided but as part of an educational or informational event by the rep. Technically, since the Spiriva guy has no relation to the topic of PCLS (unless it is of course about COPD), his provision of food violates the pharm companies’ own policy. Just something to think about. Here is the policy:

And in case you were wondering, PharmFree policies such as ours are mainstream. AMSA has put together a very nice Scorecard that describes the policies of nearly all medical schools. The culture of medicine is, in fact, changing, and you lack of exposure to drug reps is becoming the norm. Visit for more info.

As you also know, I am just about to purchase a subscription to the Medical Letter, on behalf of EVERYONE in the department, with the money we have “earned” though the CoMed study with Marcy. You will see how the Medical Letter will be integrated into your education in the near future.

I hope this adds some clarity to our policy and spurs some conversation, something we havent had regarding this topic in a while.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Concerned Said:

    March 7, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    AMSA is not a completely benevolent organization either. It has an agenda, and should be questioned whenever possible.

    As far as criticisim of AMSA, a recent essay regarding its policies regarding Complementary Alternative Medicine:

    “A standard of rigorous skepticism for the promotions of drug companies alongside one of nearly unconditional acceptance and credulity for numerous unproven, biologically implausible and even dangerous claims of alternative medicine sends a troubling double message. “

  2. casey Said:

    March 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    All organizations should be questioned and the motivation of organizational behavior examined. But I dont think there is any comparison between the motivation and subsequent activity of AMSA vs the Drug Companies. Not the same ballpark, not the same sport.

    Also, “agendas” are not maleficent by mere definition. A parent’s agenda to care for her child is quite benevolent. And I’d say an organization’s support of furthering medical students’ exposure to and involvement in improving medical care and education is quite right, whether student’s conclusion be in support or in opposition to Drug Co’s involvement in medicine.

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