Three major solutions have been proposed to combat the medical industry conflicts of interest detailed above in this paper. The first solution is embodied in the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2008, which was introduced on March 13, 2008, and requires companies manufacturing drugs, medical devices or medical supplies to make quarterly reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services detailing payments made to physicians or their employers, and prohibits tax deductions for advertising, promotion or marketing expenses for any payments not disclosed. The reported information, in turn, will be published in the federal registry permitting patients and consumers the opportunity to learn about medical industry conflicts of interest, and thereby augmenting transparency and accountability for the various payments made to physicians.
The second proposed solution is the creation of a National Institute of Drug Testing (NIDT). The principal justifications advanced for this proposal are threefold:
(1) "endemic" conflicts of interest in the system of drug evaluation have "been exacerbated by the rise in for- profit clinical trials, fast-tracking of drug approvals, government-industry partnerships, direct consumer advertising, and industry-funded salaries for FDA regulators,"
(2) "those who manufacture and market products should not have undue influence and control over how the product is evaluated," and
(3) the concept of "independent science" should be reintroduced in drug testing to "prevent even the appearance of conflict of interest."
The third proposal is the far more comprehensive policy developed by the American Medical Association and aimed at academic medical centers. In issuing its proposed policy, the AMA noted that the "standing of the profession, as much as the integrity of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, is jeopardized by allowing obvious conflicts to continue," and that academic medical centers "must more strongly regulate, and some cases prohibit, many common practices that constitute conflicts of interest with drug and medical device companies." The AMA preliminarily emphasized that a wide range of psychological, sociological, and economic research demonstrates that even small gifts significantly influence physicians' behavior and that public disclosure of conflicts of interest alone is insufficient to satisfy the need to protect the interests of patients.