From puritanism to McCarthyism

Most normal people would expect the medical school of UBC to encourage any medical education and learning. But perhaps you should be morally informed. Between the hour of 07:00 and 08:00 on St. Valentine’s Day the Section of Otolaryngology was edified by a harangue on “Ethics in CME,” ex cathedra, UBC. 

We were dissuaded from attending medically instructive meetings sponsored by drug suppliers if their logo was on the same page as the list of speakers, if the trade name of their product was mentioned, if there were any inducements to defray travel costs, if the meeting was held in a five-star restaurant, “with a wine cellar,” etc. In the real world, the various costs to the physicians are greater than that to the drug companies. We are not bought. Calculating the commuting time to and fro, added to the duration of the meeting (at MSP evening rates) the cost of travel and parking, we arrive at a figure far exceeding the best meal in town (without the imponderables of another deadline, postponing other tasks, further separation from family, etc.). No evidence-based conclusions were provided for immoral collusion, just innuendos, and perceptions.

UBC has the responsibility for ensuring respectable guidelines for medical education but should separate religion from reason.

—Michael A. Ross, FRCSC


Competing interests

Dr Ross has no financial or other interest in the pharmaceutical industry.

Michael A. Ross, MD, FRCSC. From puritanism to McCarthyism. BCMJ, Vol. 49, No. 6, July, August, 2007, Page(s) 301 - Letters.

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