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Do industry freebies affect doc’s decisions? Some say yes

A group of medical experts is calling for tighter controls on drug industry freebies to physicians. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the panel says drug company money unduly influences doctors' behavior. But the head of the San Diego County Medical Society strongly disagrees. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

The JAMA article says drug industry gifts, meals, and free drugs affect doctors' medical decisions. The authors believe sweeping conflict-of-interest policies are necessary.

But Dr. Carol Young, president of the San Diego County Medical Society, believes it's not that big a deal.

Young says most drug companies hand out small items like pens and calendars.

Young: "Very luxurious gifts that pharmaceutical companies used to furnish to doctors, you know luxury trips and the like, have been banned for a long, long time. These gifts are trivial we're talking about. And frankly, to think that they are influential is ridiculous."

Still, the JAMA article contends drug industry money distorts doctors' actions and undermines scientific research.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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