A recent poll of U.S. physicians found that about a third have been paid by pharmaceutical companies to attend meetings, present talks or host a meeting.
The anonymous poll ran simultaneously on MomMD.com and NetDoc.com from April 1 to April 11, 2010. The poll asked "Have you ever been paid by a pharmaceutical company to give a talk or to host or attend a meeting?"
Of the 82 responses, 32% reported having received payment from a pharmaceutical company to take part in a scientific or physician education meeting.
Twenty one percent of the physicians had been paid to participate on more than one occasion, and the remaining 11% just once.
The poll was specific to meetings, and does not include the nearly ubiquitous "freebies" distributed by pharmaceutical companies like pens, clipboards, note pads, etc. used to promote drugs to prescribers.
There has been substantial discussion of the effects of this sort of marketing campaign by pharmaceutical companies, especially with respect to conflicts of interest at medical schools (for example see PharmFree, a resource produced by the American Medical Student Association).
The practice of marketing of pharmaceuticals through CME is well established in the industry and heavily regulated, but the basic question remains: Do you think the net effect of this type of marketing is beneficial or are the educational benefits outweighed by possible biases introduced by marketing efforts? (takes you to the MomMD discussion forum)