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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 15695

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

A doctors group hits out at drug company sponsorship
Medical Search 2009 May 26

Full text:

A doctors group has hit out at drug company sponsorships of psychiatry’s annual conference in Australia.

Sponsorships which contribute to staging the event also carry the potential for medical professionals to face undue commercial influences, says psychiatrist Dr Jon Jureidini.
“I don’t have a problem with book sellers or equipment makers advertising to doctors … because doctors are making their own decisions and using their own money,” says Dr Jureidini, an Associate Professor based at Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“The difference is the issue of prescribing, it’s the taxpayer and the patient who bear the cost of that.
“And it might very well be that what’s good for the drug company and good for some doctors might be bad for patients, and bad for the profession.”
Dr Jureidini is the chair of Healthy Skepticism – a group of health professionals and concerned citizens which states it is working towards “reducing harm from misleading drug promotion”.
There are seven drug company sponsors of the 2009 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Adelaide Congress, which is underway this week.
Among these, Dr Jureidini points to Eli Lilly which recently agreed to pay a record $US1.4 billion to settle allegations it improperly marketed its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa.
Fellow event sponsor AstraZeneca is also facing legal action surrounding its alleged “off label” promotion of the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel.
The sponsorship allows drug companies to include their logos on event literature, stage information sessions, and have display stands in the conference hall.
Dr Jureidini says Australia’s medical colleges should follow those overseas in “rejecting industry largesse”, and he is also calling for an inquiry into the nation’s post graduate medical training.
RANZCP president Professor Ken Kirkby agrees there is a “diversity of opinion” about industry sponsorship of the medical profession’s major events.
He said the primary reason for seeking sponsorship was to defray the event’s costs and, as a not-for-profit group, raise funds to support the college.
“Additionally it provides an opportunity for delegates to apprise themselves of what industry has to offer,” says Prof Kirkby says.
“The college is mindful of public concerns and the published literature regarding influence of sponsorship, and marketing generally, on treatment and prescribing practices.”
Prof Kirkby said the sponsorship was organised “at arms length” from the college, and it had no bearing on the event’s scientific program.


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There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong. Far from creating cynics, such a story is likely to foster a healthy and creative skepticism, which is something quite different from cynicism.”
- Neil Postman in The End of Education