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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14778

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Shanahan L.
Drugs chief won't curtail spending
The Age (Melbourne) 2008 Dec 11

Full text:

THE head of the body representing drug companies in Australia has refused to impose a limit on the amount pharmaceutical companies spend at educational events for doctors.

Despite some companies splurging almost half-a-million dollars on individual events for doctors in the past year, Medicines Australia chairman Will Delaat said that he would not limit the amount spent on education and hospitality at conferences and seminars.

“There is no single limit that we should be applying because it depends very much on the content of the education and the circumstances under which that education is provided,” Mr Delaat told the National Press Club yesterday.

Pharmaceutical companies spent $63 million on more than 30,000 events between June 2007 and July 1 this year, despite the introduction of tougher reporting requirements.

Many events were held at luxury hotels and resorts, with meals and accommodation paid for by drug companies. The companies provide information on drugs that they hope doctors will later prescribe to patients.

Mr Delaat said companies would know “notionally” how much they should be spending on such events. “I think most companies have there own internal guidelines and their own notional limits about what is appropriate,” he said.

Medicines Australia works as both a lobby group and regulator for drug manufacturers and has the power to fine companies that are thought to have breached the code of conduct.

Mr Delaat also warned the Government against cutting back on the $7 billion publicly funded pharmaceutical benefits scheme in order to save money in the global financial crisis.

Recently there has been speculation that Treasury will seek to make budget cuts on the amount given to the PBS as well as raise the maximum co-payment that consumers must pay for drugs, currently at around $35.

“My message to Treasury is very clear: don’t jeopardise the PBS,” Mr Delaat said.

“It is a false economy to cut a federal health program that delivers a net saving to the state health system, because saving to the states is a saving to the nation.”


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909