Penned-up frustration

The Los Angeles Business Journal documented UCLA’s great pen drop, a symbol of the medical school’s adoption of guidelines to govern vendor relations with physicians and researchers.  According to the Journal, UCLA is one of the medical centers in the UC system to have adopted some of the conflict of interest guidelines promoted by UCDavis, including a ban on gifts.

Instead of digging a little deeper about the UCLA policies and how they stack up to others in California and elsewhere, this reporter asked the question we all secretly wanted to: What happens to all those pens?

“We’ve already approached the art department,” said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a UCLA psychology professor who sat on the guidelines committee.  “We have some sort of interpretive art exhibit in mind.”

If they don’t care, why should we?

Over at Pharmalot, word of a study of nearly 300 clinical trial participants at George Mason University found that prospective participants were not swayed much by three different stated financial conflicts of interest disclosed by the trial researchers.  The would-be guinea pigs were swayed a little more by the presence of a check.

Ever the journalist, Pharmalot points out that the press release sent out didn’t mention that one of he authors of the study, Jeff Gibb, is a lawyer – whose firm happens to represent several drugmakers.  So what’s his read on the results? Conflicts of interest don’t seem to really change participants’ behavior.  And (wait for it…) “Given that some courts have reached decisions based on their believing that knowledge of a financial stake would actually change people’s behavior,” Gibb said, “his study shows that courts need to rely on facts, not assumptions.”


And over at Health Care Renewal, Roy Poses says it’s another academic’s board nomination with blatant COI implications.   This week Dr. Harry Jacobson, Vice-Chancellor of Health Affairs at Vanderbilt University, was named to the board of Merck and Co.

In the visitors’ dug-out

Pharmastats blogs on how to effectively boost sales in untapped markets using “prescriber-level prescription data.” Citing a Stanford study on the power of medical opinion leaders, the blogger said that two-thirds of surveyed physicians “reported their opinion leaders as other physicians they have contact with in a group or hospital setting. It goes on to estimate that peer effects alone provide a 19 percent lift in the return-on-investment from targeted marketing.”

The pharmaceutical sales reps may not have much science on their CVs, but with the help of the prescriber data, this post shows that selling drugs has truly become a science.

Tiny Tim Health Care

And for those of you who enjoyed yesterday’s Pharmajingle, here’s another seasonal gem: head on over to The Health Care Blog to read Michael Millenson’s rendition of Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.  A good reminder of President Bush’s statement earlier this year in Cleveland that every American has access to health care, all they have to do is go to an emergency room.

Note: The RxP Weekly Reader and PostScript will both be taking the week off next week, and resume posts on Dec. 31.

Happy holidays, Readers —