I have never belonged to the American Medical Association. As a student I didn’t want to pay the dues. As a practicing physician I am of the opinion that the AMA has two often mutually exclusive goals (promoting physician income and patient care) and they are doing both badly.
In the 1990’s the AMA entered into a contract with Sunbeam to get an AMA seal of approval for Sunbeam products, but due to objections the AMA backed out of the deal, in the end costing them almost 10 million dollars.
As was noted at the time:
“I think if we’d gone to trial,” Dr. Relman said on Saturday, ”probably a lot more relevant information would have been uncovered and made available to the membership. As a result of this settlement, we will never know the truth of what happened. It does not let the sun shine in.”
Yeah AMA. It is probably for good reason that only around 29% f of US physicians belong to the AMA; I have never seen them as representing me or my patients. Whether the AMA or physicians, I am automatically suspicious of any person or institution who puts their seal of approval on a product. I figure they are only doing it for the money. Not that there is anything wrong for that; I am for sale if anyone can meet my price. Trusting endorsements is like George Carlin’s (I think) observation that he did not like doing standup for stoners since you never know if was the act or the dope that lead to the laughter. I know celebrities are paid for their endorsements; it is not conflict of interest when it is your job to sell a product. At least actors say they only play a doctor on TV. But when professionals use their authority to recommend products, I would love to see a conflict of interest statement in the recommendation.
When I give a lecture I have to mention my conflicts of interest (COI)* and I have to specifically confirm or deny that I will mention products in which I have a financial interest^. The COI rules are nice, so you know, sort of, who has an interest in pleasing their corporate masters, although I suspect most doctors do not take COI statements seriously. At IDSA this year most of the speakers gave their COI statements with a short, dismissive sneer and a roll of the eyes. Me? Potentially Biased? Puh-please. (more…)