October 13th, 2011
Under the influence: Vet schools developing ethics policies to avoid conflicts of interest
By Malinda Larkin
Step onto any veterinary school or college campus, and if you pay attention, you’ll notice a subtle presence throughout. It could be the fliers announcing a nutrition talk by a speaker who mentions only a certain pet food company’s products. Or it could be a faculty member who also happens to be a paid consultant for a pharmaceutical company.
But that may be changing. A few veterinary schools and colleges have implemented policies that emphasize transparency and eliminate corporate giveaways and free lunches for students and faculty. Other institutions are considering similar moves.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges has given further momentum to these changes with its recent approval of an ethics document that provides guiding principles for schools looking to develop their own policies.
The University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is one of those institutions that has recently adopted a more stringent ethics policies. The school altered its Health Care Vendor Relations policy in 2010 to reflect more general University of California policies regarding pharmaceutical, medical supply, and pet food companies.
Health care vendors, for example, may not directly provide food or any other gifts to faculty, staff, or students; however, small items may be provided to those who visit a booth at a university event or who attend a presentation made by the vendor, according to the policy.
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