Wherever there is a vocal battalion of defenders of drug industry funded medical education, you are certain to find Tom Sullivan leading the charge. Sullivan writes the most prolific pro-industry CME website, Policy and Medicine. He is a founding member of ACRE, and managed all the logistics for
Simply put, Tom Sullivan loves pharma funding of medical education, and he simply can't get enough of it. Why? If you ask Sullivan, he'll wax idealistic, as he did in one of his recent posts:
"Industry CME funding improves quality, because it helps support the development of an accreditation system for compliance and professional accredited providers that thrive by demonstrating quality and developing innovative education that improves professional practice."
It would be nice to believe that his passion stems from such an altruistic vision of industry/physician collaboration. But it's not true.
Sullivan's incentive, like most of his colleagues, is money. He is the president of Rockpointe, a medical education communication company. And while I always figured he made a good chunk of cash from drug companies, I had no idea just how much, until now. The Drug Industry Document Archive (DIDA) at UCSF just released a number of documents obtained from congressional sources, one of which is this list of drug company payments to Sullivan's company.
Here’s how much industry "educational grant" money Rockpointe has made over the last three and a half years:
2009 (first half only): $3,237,027
Sullivan is awash in cash from all the major drug companies. In 2008, he made over $400,000 each from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Daiichi Sanyo, Eli Lilly, Medimmune, Merck, and Novartis.
He specializes in crafting web programs and meeting symposia that are infomercials for specific drugs. For example, Novartis paid Sullivan $98,998.00 to create a two hour breakfast lecture which took place at the annual meeting of the American Society for Hypertension on May 17, 2008. The Symposium was entitled “Blocking the Renin Angiotensin System: Which Way is Best?”
Here's which way is best: the Novartis way. Novartis markets Diovan, an angiotensin receptor blocker. Furthermore, the FDA recently approved Novartis’ Valturna, a single pill combination of Diovan and Tekturna/Rasilez, another direct renin inhibitor. This symposium was chaired by Matthew Weir, M.D., who, yes, is a consultant for Novartis and who has frequently boosted Novartis products (see here, for example.)
By the way, the president of the American Society for Hypertension is none other than Henry Black, M.D., who, along with his pal Tom Sullivan, is on the steering committee of
My, there are a lot of dots to connect when it comes to Tom Sullivan, Rockpointe,