Psych task force issues primer on industry influence

A task force at the American Psychological Association assigned to look at the role of external funding on the profession’s mission  came back this week with a serious report and tough recommendations on how to break free from pharmaceutical influence as more states begin to grant psychologists prescribing privileges.

Some of the recommendations include :

  • that the APA adopt a “consistent and meaningful conflict of interest standard” in the APA code of ethics and creating educational material to educate members and vendors about the standard.
  • that the association never use external funding for operating budget or budget shortfalls
  • that the APA adopt ”a policy on disclosure of funding sources and potential conflicts of interest for all individuals and entities seeking APA approval for CE presentations” and considering “not offering CE credits for industry-funded courses.”
And some creative out-of-the-box types, too, including
  • a proposal that academic journals “should have a disclaimer about the accuracy of claims made in advertisements.  A significant portion (perhaps 25%) of selected industry advertising revenue should be set aside to support data-based perspectives (possibly through scheduled debate or other continuing education [CE]) that might otherwise be stifled in those areas in which one industry dominates the advertising agenda.”
This primer is a must-read.  Good blog posts on the report at Pharma Marketing Blog and Pharmalot. Whether it’s heeded going forward? Well, that’s another question, says the blogger at Clinical Psych.

Safe Rx Act of 2007 squeaks by in first council vote

A bill that would license detailers, prohibit prescription data–mining and outlaw deceptive marketing of prescription drugs passed the first vote in the D.C. city council this week by a margin of 7-6.

The Safe Rx Act of 2007 was brought by councilman David Catania, the president of the National Legislative Association to Reduce Drug Prices and would, if passed, make the District the first U.S. region to license detailers.  A second and final vote will be held Jan. 8.

Check out the NLARX website for more coverage.

No Longer Under the Radar” for parents

The Kaiser Family Foundation and NPR released a survey that shows parents don’t all know about the recent FDA vote that over-the-counter could and cough meds are neither safe nor effective for children under age 6, and those that do are divided in how to proceed.

According to the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, the survey showed 86 percent of parents had heard about the safety concerns, and 34 percent had stopped using the drugs with for their children, at least temporarily. Still, 23 percent considered the drugs to be very safe.

And Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the pediatrician who led the charge to get those drugs off pharmacy shelves, coauthored this perspectives piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tracking the October hearings and the dismal lack of safety of efficacy data for this type of drugs, the authors conclude:“Although the FDA does not need to follow the recommendations of its advisory committees, we believe that it should immediately ask companies to remove these products from store shelves and begin legal proceedings to require them to do so.”

And for dessert, Doc?

It seems a Merck rep who didn’t make the sale on a shingles vaccine at a dinner for some Illinois doctors may have sent anonymous letters to two of the docs in attendance smearing their wives.

The docs and their lawyers hypothesize that the anonymous letter may have been meant to silence the docs’ questions about the vaccine; both physicians, Carl Lawyer and Paul Smelter, have threatened a defamation lawsuit.

Here’s a report in the Springfield Journal-Register, and an editorial arguing that the episode serves as a lesson for doctors who go to dinner to get ‘educated’ on drugs.

“Consider this analogy: If you wanted to research a new car purchase, would you turn first to the car salesperson?,” the editorial board writes.  “The answer is obvious. And it is obvious that fancy dinners are not about educating doctors; they are about influencing them. Doctors should just say no to drug reps.”

Get the blogword from Howard Brody’s Hooked and Pharmalot.


A bit more from the blogs we read this week…

The thread Dr. Carlat pulled over Eli Lilly’s deployment of a risk management firm to counsel doctors on risky antipsychotics without fear of litigation just keeps unraveling.  He links to an Indianapolis Star story on the matter in this post.

Besides the Springfield fiasco, Howard Brody also posted interest tidbits on the American Medical Student Association and the FDA draft guidance on marketing for off-label uses .

And David Harlow over at Healthblawg has just issued the latest Health Wonk Review, the bi-weekly round up of all things health care.