Friday, March 13, 2009
Big Pharma and Doctors
It is insane that we let problems get out of hand and then OVER-REACT by legislating ridiculous rules that hurt industry and growth. I am speaking about the new federal law that Congress is discussing that says medical device and pharmaceutical companies cannot give pens or lunch or sticky note pads to physicians and they have to report any consulting or speaking payments of over $50.00. Massachusetts has already adopted these bans and there is a patchwork of other states with their own laws.
I have written before about the egregious behavior of physicians and research institutes being far to cozy with big Pharma and Medical Device manufacturers. Orthopedic surgeons have received hundreds of thousands of dollars (each) in "consulting fees" for using certain expensive artificial joints. The American Academy of Psychiatry is cleaning house after being exposed by Senator Grassley's investigation into the unethical behavior and unregulated greed of academic psychiatrists promoting questionable drugs for kids. I've also written on big Pharma price gouging and how it should be stopped.
So make no mistake...I am against corruption, lack of medical ethics and greed. We are here for the good of our patients...period.
That said, the pendulum is swinging too far. Innovation is the hallmark of advancing medicine. There is a natural affinity for research physicians and big Pharma and it is usually a healthy relationship. Clinicians are dependent upon continuing education throughout their careers (or we would still be using lobotomy or arsenic to treat infection) and much good comes from programs that advance our knowledge. Those programs need credible speakers and those speakers need to be well compensated for their expertise.
I have been a pharmaceutical speaker and I was well compensated. My talks were balanced with evidence based literature, treatment options and outcomes. I was sponsored by Lilly, Wyeth and Pfizer at different times. If I had to fill out reams of paperwork or be offered $50, they would not have secured my service (or anyone else that could hold the attention of a crowd)
The legislatures that are adopting these laws need to look in the mirror and clean up their own house first.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 6:23 AM