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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20284

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: Electronic Source

Reynolds M
Australian Pharma companies bow to demanding doctors 2012 Oct 2

Full text:

Demanding doctors with “unreasonable” expectations are driving up the costs
of medical educational events, a pharma industry insider says.

In a submission to the ACCC on the next update to the Medicines Australia’s
Code of Conduct, an anonymous ‘player in the pharmaceutical industry’
supports full disclosure of sponsorship payments as he says under the
current system of self-regulation, “Key Opinion Leader” doctors are coercing
pharma companies into contravening the Code.

The ‘insider’ says some doctors demand $1-2k or more for a brief talk based
on company-provided slides, in addition to business class airfares of up to

Key Opinion Leaders also enjoy holidays as extensions of their conferences,
and sometimes never turn up to meetings they are sponsored to attend, as
they are “probably off motoring around Europe somewhere!” he claims.

But companies are reluctant to complain about such demands for fear of
alienating doctors of influence, who they claim often pit companies against
each other in bidding wars for their services.

“The Code needs to be stronger to help companies deal with these situations
and know that any company that does not do the same thing will be exposed.
Until that happens everyone is afraid to be the odd ones out,” he writes.

He urges the AMA to set industry honorarium fee rates to stop bidding wars,
and limiting doctors to just one sponsored event per company. He adds that
most doctors as well as the public would be shocked by the amount of “paid
comment” to be revealed by transparency.


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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