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In December, we posted on Dr. James Orlowski, singled out for being the only Tampa-area doc to be a registered member of NoFreeLunch.org., a growing group of doctors and health care practitioners who have pledged to go pharm-free. The St. Petersburg Times talked with Orlowski and why he’d chosen to leave the pharm rep meals and post-its behind.
Now, exactly one month later, the Times has found his foil, one Dr. H. James Brownlee, a family doctor at the University of South Florida who has a bout 30 gigs talking up drugs a year, but told the paper he’s turned down plenty of other offers to shill for a drugmaker – of course, it might be because his dance card’s already full.
But here’s another point that’s worth noting – a No Free Lunch directory search conducted yesterday comes up with zero Tampa-area physicians who have joined since the Orlowski story ran on Dec. 27, 2007. That’s an incredible statistic! Here’s a paper with a print circulation of 322,771, (not counting online readership), and 1 million people living in the Greater Tampa Bay area. So 332,888 divided by the square root of the binomial factor of a million…well, despite PostScript’s math, you get the picture. The right answer should not come out to zero.
So what’s keeping them?
Here’s what you have to do to become No Free Lunch certified. “I, __________________, am committed to practicing medicine in the best interest of my patients and on the basis of the best available evidence, rather than on the basis of advertising or promotion. I therefore pledge to accept no money, gifts, or hospitality from the pharmaceutical industry; to seek unbiased sources of information and not rely on information disseminated by drug companies; and to avoid conflicts of interest in my practice, teaching, and/or research.”
NoFreeLunch founder Dr. Bob Goodman isn’t as surprised as PostScript was. “I might have expected a few more pledgers after the Orlowski piece, but am not shocked,” Goodman told us by email. “I think there has generally been some reluctance on the part of health care professionals to put their names and practice addresses on the web for something like this, even if they are supportive and in fact paraphernalia-free.”
We hope others will think about e-signing that dotted line.