I'm writing this from the Press Room in the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, where the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association is being held. On my schedule this morning was a lecture on genetics in psychiatry by Kenneth Kendler, but once I got there a line was snaking its way into the hallway and I was out of luck. So I decided to go to one of Shire's product theaters.
You may recall that recently the APA voted to phase out industry-sponsored symposia (ISS), but they are now allowing companies to hold promotional educational events called product theaters. This one was entitled "Current Perspectives on Diagnostic and Treatment Challenges of ADHD in Adults," and was presented by Robert Lasser, who is Shire's Senior Director of Global Medical Affairs. That's him in the photo.
Overall, he made a fairly balanced pitch for diagnosing more ADHD in adults and for using Vyvanse. He is a psychiatrist, and knew his stuff. It was definitely a soft sell, compared to the experience of being visited by a Shire drug rep.
We heard the usual information (not inaccurate) about 4% of adults having ADHD, about estimates that up to 20% of patients with depression have ADHD. We heard about the ways that ADHD symptoms manifest in adults, like workaholism, possibly due to job inefficiency, frequent changes of life partners, finishing other people's sentences, low frustration tolerance, etc.... Of course, all of these are non-specific symptoms and can be seen in a huge range of other diagnoses and even in people with no psychiatric problems at all, which was something that was not mentioned. On the other hand, would this have been mentioned by a conventional key opinion leader speaking at an ISS? Probably not.
The one thing that bothered me is that, unlike at any of the other symposia, refreshments were served, consisting of a table with coffee, bagels, and muffins. Nothing extravagant, but I can assure you that there was a long line of people feeding themselves, and that this drew people in. It was not as crowded as Kendler's lecture, but then again Kendler is a world famous psychiatrist lecturing on a topic that we hear a lot less about than ADHD.
Thus far, I would say that the product theaters are a success, in that they are transparently promotional and provide a reasonable forum for us to interact at a high level with industry. I'm willing to bet that in New Orleans, they will not be allowed to provide food, because this places them in a privileged position in relation to the other events.
That's all for now--I'll be posting frequently throughout the meeting!