Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. That’s all the money-grubbing clique of pharma groupie docs do when anybody even remotely questions their right to rake in thousands of dollars, by signing their sacrosanct names to somebody else’s “research” paper pushing a new drug. Now the American Heart Association has taken a tiny step forward by announcing a rule governing the publication of drug company promotional material. John Mack describes the situation on his Pharma Marketing Blog, in a post entitled, “Are Docs Being Banished from Pharma’s Garden of Eden?”
“It is a breathtaking sweep to squash something that is really important to us, the science going on in the private sector,” said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, at a meeting in Bethesda, Md. At issue is a decision by the American Heart Association (AHA) to ban pharmaceutical industry employees from making medical education presentations later this year at the AHA’s annual scientific sessions (see “Drug firms banished from medical talks“)….Wow! It’s as if physicians were banished from an Eden where they enjoyed the fruits of the tree of knowledge made accessible by the pharmaceutical industry. To some, it’s a development of biblical proportions that deserves an appropriate image.
And here’s the new rule:
“In compliance with ACCME requirements, employees of a commercial interest entity cannot be the presenting author of the abstract. A commercial interest is defined as any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing healthcare goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. For our purposes, an employee is defined as someone who is directly working for the commercial interest as their primary employer and the commercial interest provides their primary source of income. A person acting as a contractor to a commercial interest, providing consultation, or other services secondary to their primary appointment at, for example, a university, would not be considered an employee.”
“If the abstract is selected for presentation (oral or poster),” says AHA, “the employee of the commercial interest cannot present but must select another author.”
What this means is that an abstract that is authored solely by a physician or physicians DIRECTLY employed full-time by a pharmaceutical company can be blocked. Otherwise, another, non-pharma employee author can make the presentation. There is almost always other non-pharma authors, including the physicians who ran the clinical studies being reported. Also, ghostwriters can make presentations, as indicated by this FAQ from AHA:
“Q: I am the primary author of an abstract and designated as the presenter. I am currently employed by a home health agency. Can I still present my abstract?
A. Yes, the ACCME does not consider providers of clinical service directly to patients to be commercial interests.”
It’s really hard to believe that none less than the director of the National Institutes of Health gets openly involved in supporting Big Pharma, but that’s Washington these days.
In any case, this rule doesn’t really curb doctors; it stands to enlarge their market. Now, more docs can charge more money to sign papers they haven’t written, in order to meet the AHA standards, with the apparent backing of the National Institutes of Health. Talk about snakes in the grass!
Be sure to visit Pharma Marketing Blog for Mack’s illustration, and his always entertaining posts.