Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nemeroff’s Effexor Love-Fest: It’s CME-Like!

According to the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, in 2000 Dr. Charles Nemeroff organized a Wyeth-funded supplement of a journal which he also edits, Depression and Anxiety, paying himself and 13 other academics $3000 each. This money was disbursed from an “unrestricted educational grant” given to Emory by Wyeth. The fact that the supplement was paid for by Wyeth was, unfortunately, not disclosed to the readers.

Also from the Wall Street Journal, we learn here that Emory’s defense of Nemeroff’s undisclosed hundreds of thousands from GSK is that some of the payments were not for promotional talks, but for “CME-like” talks.

Nobody seems to have an inkling what "CME-like" means. But after reading through Nemeroff's Effexor Love-fest supplement, I'm getting an idea.


Here is how Dr. Nemeroff introduces the supplement:

“There is little doubt that the introduction of venlafaxine has had a remarkable impact on clinical practice. I have had more than 25 patients who have failed multiple trials with virtually all of the antidepressants available who have responded to venlafaxine often with complete remission.”

And here are some random phrases culled from the abstracts of the 13 other CME-like articles, done up in Wyeth's green and purple Effexor color scheme:


Venlafaxine is a unique antidepressant medication with well documented efficacy and safety in the acute treatment of major depressive disorder

easy to monitor and dose

may also be effective in the treatment of dysthymic disorder and bipolar II depression

facilitate successful treatment of patients.

low potential for drug interactions

appropriate first-line medication for GAD

may be particularly effective for the severely ill

good tolerability

may be effective for conditions such as stroke, anxiety, and neuropathic pain

may be useful in children and adolescents with a variety of psychiatric disorders

effective in reducing anxiety in patients with depression

efficacy...in several other conditions including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, trichotillomania, ADHD, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia

an attractive choice for geriatric patients

So here is a working definition of CME-like:


--Too academic-sounding to be an advertisement


--Too commercially biased to be CME


--Ergo...it's CME-like!





3 comments:

Anonymous said...

An "Unrestricted Educational Grant" from a pharmaceutical company MUST be disclosed to readers. If there is no disclosure in this supplement, as you say, then this is a very serious violation of FDA regulations and will have serious consequences for the sponsor. Is it possible that the journal publisher's made a mistake and left the disclaimer off the supplement?

Gina Pera said...

Hmmm, no mention of the nasty withdrawal potential.

Kari said...

I read your article in the NY times and very much appreciated your honesty! I am trying to get off of effexor at this time and it has been an excruciating experience. I was never informed of what the withdrawal effects would be like. And once the ugly side effects from being on the medication revealed themselves I couldn't stop taking the medication. Had I been fully educated I would have NEVER agreed to take this medication. Thank you for caring enough about your patients to speak up.