Take no gifts

Josh Harrison at Mother Jones, recently reported on BP’s Secret Ticket Request Line. For the past decade until last week, politicians and regulators could call (916) 444-7968, identify themselves as a lawmaker and receive free tickets to the BP suite at Arco Arena  for Kings basketball games, concerts and other exclusive events. Click for audio.

Perhaps such gifts are currently legal, but we should not tolerate them.

In Exodus we learn that officials should “take no gift, for the gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous”. Just as surely as bribes corrupt a judge, gifts — legal or not — corrupt politicians, researchers and regulators.

Fortunately, some institutions are setting a higher standard.  

Harvard Medical School is jumping on the gift band bandwagon with a sweeping policy to regulate contact by its 11,000 faculty members with the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.

The school’s new policy, slated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, will bar HMS faculty from delivering promotional talks for device and drug makers and from accepting personal gifts, travel, or meals, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

Johns Hopkins University enacted similar rules last April, Boston University is considering similar changes, while Stanford and the University of Massachusetts already have strict policies.

On a Federal level, the Healthcare Reform Act will require pharmaceuticals to report gifts or payments over $10 starting March 31, 2013.
 

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