Tag Archives: doctors

Will Drug Pushing Docs Get New Rules for Serving Big Pharma?

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.

Docs and the Drugs They Push

As I wrote earlier in the week, members of the medical profession are moaning and groaning about how once again they are taking an unfair beating at the hands of the mad socialists in Washington. For years now docs have been acting as salesmen for drug companies, in some cases,working with the drugsters to outmanuever FDA regulations–not that it’s very difficult to outmanuever that regulatory body which has become little more than an industry pr shop.

Hopefully the Sunshine Act, which is part of health reform legislation, and which requires drug companies to disclose who they buy research from and for how much, will help put a stop to doctors as drug  salesmen. The problem is horrendous. On March 14, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a lengthy detailed account of the relationship between Wisconsin doctors and the drug industry. It is well worth reading in full. Here are a few bits:

When looking for a doctor to travel the country and tout its costly prescription fish oil pill, GlaxoSmithKline didn’t select a heavyweight university researcher.

Instead, it wrote checks to Tara Dall, a Delafield primary-care doctor who entered private practice in 2001.

For just three months of speaking engagements last year, GlaxoSmithKline paid Dall $45,000, ranking her among the most highly paid of more than 3,600 doctors nationwide who spoke for the company, which released records for only one quarter of the year…..

Dall hedged when asked in an interview if she fully disclosed her financial relationship with GlaxoSmithKline to all the patients for whom she prescribes the company’s high-priced fish oil product, known as Lovaza.

“I think I would (disclose) if I was going to do anything off-label,” she said. “Whether I tell every single patient, I’m not sure.”

The next day she called back and made a short statement, but hung up without answering questions.

“It is absolutely disclosed to patients that I am a speaker and that I speak for pharmaceutical companies, and it is listed on my Web site,” she said…..

The story describes the cozy dealings between companies and docs, citing other cases, before returning to Dall:

According to her résumé, Dall does talks for five other drug and medical companies in addition to GlaxoSmithKline as well as community talks, including an unpaid speech on heart disease she gave to General Electric Co. employees in Wisconsin last August.

There, she made an eyebrow-raising statement about heart disease.

“As soon as we identify what puts you at risk, we can absolutely fix it,” Dall assured them in the talk, a video of which is posted on her Web site. “We can totally prevent cardiovascular disease from happening. We can completely trump genetics.”

That’s wrong, according to Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, and Raymond Gibbons, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

At best, cholesterol-controlling statin drugs reduce heart attacks and strokes by about one-third, Nissen said.

“We cannot trump genetics,” Nissen said. “If she was right, we could wipe this disease out just by giving drugs to people. Even if we put statins in the water supply, cardiovascular disease would still be the leading cause of death.”