Columbia

Lowe said pharmaceutical companies refer to him as a “Thought Leader.”

Columbia! the gem of big pharma!
The home of the hack and the shill!
The shrine of drug-makers’ devotion,
The campus where all promote their pills.
Thy professors are prostitutes assembled;
They will read any script you put on view;
Their payments make lesser salesmen tremble,
When borne by the proud and the few
When borne by the proud and the few
When borne by the proud and the few,
Their payments make lesser salesmen tremble,
When borne by the proud and the few.

If I were a university pharmawhore, I’d be watching my ass.

[A just-announced Justice Department] indictment accuses [a] Glaxo official, Lauren C. Stevens of Durham, N.C., of lying to the Food and Drug Administration in 2003, by writing letters, as associate general counsel, denying that doctors speaking at company events had promoted Wellbutrin for uses not approved by the agency. Ms. Stevens “made false statements and withheld documents she recognized as incriminating,” including slides the F.D.A. had sought during its investigation, the indictment stated.

This could get ugly. The Justice Department has decided to go after people, not just companies.

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UPDATE: Along these same lines, the latest issue of Academe, edited by the wonderful Sheldon Krimsky, is all about conflict of interest and corporate influence in the university. Looks like a must-read.

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ANOTHER UPDATE:  Much more detail about the Justice Department’s action from the indispensable Health Care Renewal.

“The flow of marketing money must find an outlet.”

At Health Care Renewal, Bernard Carroll updates us on the latest bogus and error-ridden continuing education offerings.

The Carlat Psychiatry Blog…

…  has more details of the Continuing Medical Education hearing at the Senate.  (UD live blogged part of it here.)  Some morsels from Carlat:

[One CME defender] conflated two issues: the remarkable advances in medicine over the past few decades and industry funding of CME. The two are not related. We’ve had advances in medicine because of great science and appropriate interactions between doctors and industry–bona fide relationships based on developing products and conducting clinical trials. None of these relationships would be threatened in any way by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act or by the IOM’s proposal to greatly scale back industry funding of CME.

My favorite moment of the hearing was when Senator Al Franken directly confronted [this speaker], saying (again, I’m paraphrasing): “You seem to draw a lot of conclusions from anecdotes of people who have benefited from modern medicine. Medicine is a lot better now than when we were kids, but that doesn’t mean that industry should fund CME.”

[The] comments [from the CME accrediting organization spokesperson] were disappointing in the extreme. He repeated a single refrain, saying, in essence: “There is no problem with bias in CME. We are doing our job well. ACCME is the firewall between promotion and education.” C’mon … You know what’s going on. You’ve seen the many, many letters of complaint reporting biased programs. In fact, you reprimanded one company for bias within the last few months–I know, because the reprimand was based on my letter. It only took you about two years to issue your decision. I won’t mention the specifics in this blog because I promised you I wouldn’t.

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