By Arlen Meyers MD MBA
When it comes to working with industry, keep your karma clean.
Working with industry comes with strings. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, includes a number of provisions including a requirement that all pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers publicly post on a website all payments or transfers of value from the manufacturer to a health care professional or institute. Some companies, like Allergan, have taken it a step further and entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the feds. (http://www.allergan.com)
The present oversight environment demands that you disclose and make transparent your interactions with industry and any financial interests that result from that interaction. Here are some things to do to be sure you don't get caught with your stock options down.
Be sure to keep an updated inventory of your consulting engagments, contracts and activities and how you were compensated in cash, stock or some other financial instrument
If you are an employee of an organization, like a univeristy of hospital chain, it is likely that you will get a friendly (hopefully) reminder from your compliance officer to submit your conflict of interest statement. They will review it and get back to you if they see problems.
Don't study or use what you own
Big ticket conflicts make headlines. If you are being paid as a consultant to an orthopedic company and use lots of their products, beware. If you give lectures on depression to docs who like to eat expensive steaks and drink top shelf wines for free, and, you are the biggest prescriber of antidressants in your galaxy, that will raise a red flag.
Disclose your activity to peers and others
When you publish something or give a talk, disclose your interests. If you participate in medical legal activities, like expert witness participation, understand that your commercial interests will come under the magnifying glass of opposing counsel. Likewise, if you agree to work with one company, you will usually be asked to sign something saying that you will not work with another company where there might be a conflict.
When working with industry, it's best be safe than sorry. Doctors hate to flunk tests. The worst one to flunk is the New York Times test.
Arlen Meyers MD MBA is the cofounder, and Chief Medical Officer of MedVoy, a medical tourism company. He is also a Professor of Otolaryngology, Dentistry and Engineering at the University of Colorado at Denver and CEO and President of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs. He blogs at Freelance MD
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