Making the rounds

The Reader starts with the most continental news in the world of pharmaceutical conflict of interest this week: the AMSA PharmFree Scorecard, released with RxP last week, made sea-to-sea headlines and/or waves. Here’s a handful of stories about schools who made the grade, and some that didn’t.

San Francisco Chronicle

Lawrence Journal-World 

Dallas Morning News

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (and editorial)

New Mexico Independent

Harvard Crimson

Daily Californian

ADHDing machine

A report that three prominent Harvard child psychiatrists failed to report large sums of drug company pay under institutional disclosure policy yanked the problem of disclosure squarely into the spotlight. Dr. Joseph Biederman, along with colleagues Dr. Timothy Wilens and Dr. Thomas Spencer, amended their disclosure reports after a Congressional probe by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) found that each had significantly underreported pharmaceutical payments, from which each made more than $1 million between 2000 and 2007.  According to news reports, the amended disclosures still don’t match pharmaceutical company records, which indicate each of the doctors received more.

“Although many of his studies are small and often financed by drug makers,” the New York Times writes of Biederman, “his work helped to fuel a controversial 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder, which is characterized by severe mood swings, and a rapid rise in the use of antipsychotic medicines in children. “

Back to the disclosure problem: Harvard, like many academic medical centers, had a disclosure policy in place, which relies on the honor system for faculty to report their own industry earnings.  A system that didn’t work right this time, and which makes the case, as these Boston Globe and New York Times editorials do, for the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.  The Sunshine Act, which is still under construction after a series of compromises with pharmaceutical companies reshaped the bill in May, would eliminate the problem of faulty and voluntary self-reporting by relying on mandatory company reporting –it was the company data, after all, that turned Grassley on to the discrepancies in the first place.

The long view

And since it’s always good to see something from a distance, we made the small hop across the pond (well, virtually) and to take a gander at the British Medical Journal’s account of the bill.