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The American Psychiatric Association recently announced that it would put a halt to medical seminars financed by drug or device makers and also would put a halt on industry paid meals at its annual meeting. This is good news for consumers.

All professionals are required to attend continuing education courses each year to keep their licenses current. In the medical field, drug and device manufacturers sponsor seminars and symposiums to provide these continuing education requirements and many believe that some of the information provided is biased in favor of that particular sponsor:

“We decided that our professional education should be entirely separate from industries that are involved in psychiatry,” said the association’s president, Dr. Nada L. Stotland, in a telephone interview.

The association is reacting to its own investigation into the income it received from industry sources, as well as news that congressional investigators have found that several psychiatrists who received six and seven figure payments from drug manufacturers that were not reported to their employers. It is extremely important to have transparency in the process. Medical experts should be able to defend their work on the merits. If their findings jive with a position favorable to the company paying for the research, there is at least the appearance of impropriety. While it may be perfectly innocent, it doesn’t look that way (Congress – please take note).

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