It seems that Douglas P. Olsen believes that the pharmaceutical industry's influence on nursing is a relatively new phenomenon ("Nurses and the Pharmaceutical Industry: Part 1," Ethical Issues, January). Yet NPs, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists have interacted with the industry for decades.
I would guess that a considerable amount—maybe even the majority—of the nondues revenue of many if not all NP organizations used to or still does derive from pharmaceutical industry support. This money has fueled the growth of the NP profession, with all related organizations having received significant revenue from the pharmaceutical industry for more than 30 years. It's very much the same with physician assistants (PAs), and as a leader within that community, I don't think we should ignore this vital early financial support. In fact, I would guess that most NP and PA organizations are quite worried about how to make up the support they'll lose this coming year as industry funding shrinks. Those of us who prescribe will always have to learn about new products and how they work; we need pharmaceutical education to best serve our patients. The pharmaceutical industry has to educate providers and consumers, sell medicines, and make a profit. The question is one of balance. Our professional organizations need clear guidelines regarding pharmaceutical-industry support of our education and meetings.
This thought-provoking article should be required reading for all clinicians.
Dave Mittman, PA
Livingston, NJ© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.