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Pharma-free: Is our network ready?

Dr Nick Kashey LHP Medical DirectorBy Nick Kashey, M.D., MPH, LHP medical director

Is your practice “pharma-free”? The Clinical Collaboration and Performance Committee recently spent some time discussing the implications and nuances of having one’s clinical practice be free of influence by the pharmaceutical industry.

There is a spectrum of involvement with the pharmaceutical industry. Fully pharma-free practices do not entertain any representatives, don’t accept gifts (pens, pads), and do not keep any samples on the premises. Some practices do have some samples, but limit contact between representatives and providers, while others have more direct contact with industry representatives.

Matters get more complex in the surgical world, where device representatives are essential to ongoing clinical practice, and it isn’t realistic to completely sever all ties with industry.

Why go pharma-free? There is a sizable body of evidence demonstrating the measurable effect of samples, and even minor marketing materials such as pens, on prescribing habits of providers. Additionally, studies show that patients receiving samples are often not the ones in the most financial need, and these samples often lead to ongoing care at higher cost, when there are effective and affordable alternatives available.

Giving up samples can be challenging, as some patients have come to expect their availability, and there are cases where they help patients get a medication in the short term. However, as articles from the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine demonstrate, the net impact is often one of higher cost and altered prescribing habits.

As part of a high value network that is committed to providing quality, evidence-based care at an affordable cost, Legacy Health Partners members should ensure that their relationships with the pharmaceutical industry serves this purpose. Please take a moment to review the above linked articles and ask yourself if your practice is “pharma-free” or if there are additional steps your practice can take.


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