With the holiday crush nearing its end, PostScript would like to tip its hat (or pen) to the following parties whose bold efforts to help turn the tide against unfettered pharmaceutical marketing may have gone unnoticed in the waning days of 2007.
Representative Rosa DeLauro – The Connecticut congresswoman and chair of the subcommittee that funds the FDA added a major speed bump into a federal appropriations bill that effectively puts the brakes on funding for the FDA’s newly created Reagan-Udall Foundation. DeLauro cited concerns about potential conflicts of interest arising from Big Pharma’s funding of the Foundation, a so-called private, independent nonprofit organization created to “advance FDA’s mission to modernize medical, veterinary, food, food ingredient, and cosmetic product development, accelerate innovation, and enhance product safety.”In early December, she sent a pointed letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach questioning the appointment of Dr. Tadataka Yamada to the Foundation board in the wake of a Senate Finance committee report that found Dr. Yamada, former chief of research for GlaxoSmithKline, had attempted to intimidate a scientist who raised red flags about the GSK’s blockbuster drug, Avandia. In that letter, DeLauro also made reference to a previous unanswered letter she sent to von Eschenbach concerning the specter of industry influence in the Reagan-Udall Foundation and suggesting that she might rescind funding. Apparently, she wasn’t kidding. Perhaps letter #2 went unanswered, as well…
In the article, Dr. Orlowski, Chief of Pediatrics at Tampa’s University Community Hospital and an ardent opponent of pharmaceutical marketing to docs, recounts his days as a struggling med student when plentiful drug company freebie were hard to resist. But Orlowski did. “There was no way I was going to let a drug company gift influence my prescribing,” he said.
Today, Orlowski teaches med students under his guidance to just say “no” to pharma reps and has persuaded the hospital to ban free lunches and sales rep interactions with doctors, students and nurses.
One of PostScript’s 2008 resolutions is to find more Dr. Orlowski’s out there.