Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jurassic CME Park comes to Capitol Hill

Look out, congressmen and senators. The dinosaurs are stampeding the Hill.

That reactionary unthink tank, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), is sponsoring what they are calling an "Evidence-Based Evaluation" of industry support of continuing medical eduation. You can view their invitation here.

For those who have not yet learned about CMPI, go to Sourcewatch for as much information about them as you can stomach. Essentially, they are a front group for the pharmaceutical industry, the CME industry, and whatever other stakeholding company is willing to fund them according to this menu of donating options. For example, $10,000 buys you a "corporate sponsorship" and up to four meals with "CMPI research scholars," $25,000 nets you a seat in the "Chairman's Circle" and an invitation to a "summit," and big spenders can go whole hog with a $100,000 membership in the "President's Club," and a "personal briefing."

Joining with this den of integrity will be none other than George Lundberg, M.D., editor-in-chief of Medscape. Dr. Lundberg embarrassed Medscape and the entire medical community recently with this
video editorial in which he responded to the CME concerns of the nation's top medical organizations by saying: "We are just going to keep doing what we are doing. It is good. We are clean. Our work is transparent.”

Other participants, all of whom will examine the issue from a balanced and "evidence-based" perspective, are:

--Peter Pitts, who bills himself on the invitation as the "President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest," neglecting to mention his day job, which is Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at the global public relations firm, Manning, Selvage & Lee.

--Michael Weber, MD, listed as "Professor of Medicine, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY." Apparently a printing error omitted the fact that he is the co-chairman of the "National Campaign to Control Hypertension," a group of hired gun physicians funded by Novartis to make sure your doctor and my doctor hear good things about Exforge, Novartis' new blood pressure pill.

--Roger Meyer, MD, listed on the brochure as "Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania." Unfortunately, there just wasn't room to disclose the fact that he is actually the CEO of a company called Best Practice
, which helps companies market their drugs via CME and provides a roster of "key opinion leaders" for hire.

I've only scratched the surface here, folks. There are many more speakers scheduled, all of whom are similarly dispassionate observers of the CME scene, and are equally scrupulous in their disclosures.

The event will occur on Monday, September 22, 8:00 – 12:30 pm, at 121 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC. You can RSVP with Mario Coluccio at 212.417.9169, or email her at

If you do go, I have a word of advice. Be careful around the speakers. Dinosaurs bite.


Anonymous said...

Apparently you are the only pure one left on the planet. You have no biases or opinions that color your judgment or clinical practice. And of course your opinion about the negative pharmaceutical industry's impact on research -- none of which can be demonstrated through the traditional scientific methods but only appeals to emotion -- are right and everyone else is wrong. But that's not bias. Apart from the fact that the Sourcewatch material is three years old and outdated (which means you didn't even bother to check the facts since our 990 is readily available) you don't even have the intellectual or moral courage to engage on the merits of the issue CME or more generally the relationship between industry and academia. Rather, you resort to the oldest rhetorical trick in the book: attacking the character or motives of a person who has stated an idea, rather than the idea itself. That's the sign of a bully and a coward. If you had any integrity or guts at all you would show up at our session (the very thought of it must give be keeping you up nights!!) engage in reasoned discussion. But I doubt you will.

gold173 said...

Of course you proved my point by resorting to ad hominem attacks once again that are circular in logic. The assert that pharmaceutical money corrupts and that the physicians or researcher who receive are bribed, influenced or corrupted (consciously or not) and that the public health is harmed in the public AND that people like you somehow are better physicians and stewards of the public health is an untested question to say the least. As for evidence, all you provide are anecdotes and allegations. Not enough. As for your linking to Evelyn Pringle...that is sad. She has published a string of half truths and lies. You are now spreading the slander with her.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know which member of Congress is assisting this gang in defrauding (sorry, EDUCATING) the public by sponsoring their use of a room in the Cannon House Office Building, as is required by House rules.
Perhaps the public-spirited Mr.Goldberg could share that.

Anonymous said...

Pharma Marketing blog has an entertaining account of what took place:

Here's an excerpt:

"The rhetoric was ratcheted up several notches by Thomas Stossel, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard University. Stossel likened the situation facing industry-sponsored CME to a 'six alarm fire' and suggested that it is important to get at the 'arsonists.' Stossel named Merrill Goozner of as one of these 'arsonists.' Other panelists suggested that a good many industry-sponsored CME 'arsonists' may be their colleagues in physician associations and medical schools that are calling for an end to pharma-sponsored CME. Stossel, as well as other presenters, ridiculed all the fuss about 'disclosure' of conflicts of interest and said it amounted to 'inquisition by disclosure.'"

Arsonists? LOL. Got a match?