The Royalty Treatment 

This survey in JAMA on institutional conflicts of interest at medical schools got some pick up, including these stories Reuters, Inside Higher Ed, Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report. 

We blogged on a related editorial by RxP’s David Rothman earlier this week, but be sure to check out this post from Howard Brody, who asks where’s the proof of damage these conflicts can cause? (then provides his own). 

Brody is also skeptical about how much water policies carry for such a complex and deep-rooted issue as institutional conflicts of interest: “It is not clear to me what one can do about institutional COI when the forces working on the average medical school are aligned as they are today,” Brody writes.

Pharma Freebies: Hot or not? 

Businessweek ran its answer to the dueling-talking-heads-on-cable-news-networks with this pro-con, “Halt the Pharma Freebies?” in Duh-Duh-Duh…The Debate Room! Prescription Project advisory boardmember Phillip Pizzo MD, the Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine goes column-to-column with Ken Johnson of PhRMA.  Luckily, the text is more interesting than the average Anderson Cooper/Wolf Blitzer exchange.    

Dear Mr. Stupak: This Star-Ledger piece looks at the recent flurry of Congressional inquiries into the marketing and safety practices of big pharmaceutical companies.  Right now, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Merck, Schering-Plough and GlaxoSmithKline have all become compulsory pen pals with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Finance Committee lately. 

We’re biased, but we tend to believe/hope that these inquiries may yield more than the baseball hearings, or Arlen Specter’s heroic efforts to preserve the sanctity of American Football for future generations.    But if it seems like Congress can’t seem to stop talking to the drugmakers or the athletes, consider this: A new survey shows that prescription drugs may be on their way to surpassing baseball as the new American past time. Stand aside, Roger Clemens.  It’s Robert Jarvik’s turn to shine. In the Pitt, not their stomach 

Here’s a good story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the first felt effects of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s new conflict of interest policies, which go into effect today.

Our hero is one Robert Bishop, a caterer near campus whose pharma accounts are going to go way down (20 percent of his weekly business), but who luckily has a gymnastics studio that is not affected by the COI policies…   That’s not all, though. Apparently UPMC, in a bind about the controversial issues of samples, elected for physicians in its network to decide whether they would continue to receive free drug samples – and 45 percent will.   Also, this insight: “The number of academic medical centers imposing such restrictions is growing every year, one pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, said in a statement.”

Newsday, Sunshine This Newsday story from Sunday looks at the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a bill banning physician gifts and prescriber data-mining that is being considered in the New York State Assembly now.   

Reform by another name The Carlat Psychiatry Blog isn’t sure that MGH Psychiatry Academy’s new policy – keep taking industry money, stop talking about it – really adds up to ‘CME reform’ it’s billed as.   


And Consumers Union is petitioning the FDA to include a 1-800 number and website where consumers can report side effects on every pharma commercial that runs on TV.  The FDA already requires companies to include it in print ads, but who reads anymore?  Check it out at Consumers Union website,