Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Medical Transparency Update

Boy, do we get results!
Regular readers may recall that we recently reported on regulations regarding physician rewards for recommending certain regimens [ed: okay, enough already with the alliteration!]. Specifically, "the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to a voluntary moratorium on the kind of branded goodies...that were meant to foster good will and, some would say, encourage doctors to prescribe more of the drugs."
First out of the box, it would appear, is Big Pharma Behemoth Pfizer, which has just announced that "will begin disclosing all sizable payments it makes to doctors, including those who test experimental drugs in people, a first for the industry." Now, that's not quite the same as, you know, actually ending said payments, but it certainly adds an element of transparency to a hitherto murky underworld of quid-pro-quo.
As Pfizer's Chief Executive Jeffrey Kindler noted, "It's very important that we earn the trust of patients and the public."
No kidding.
And it looks like Pfizer's move has sparked an interest in others, as well: "A handful of drugmakers, including Merck & Co. and Eli Lilly & Co., have recently announced plans to disclose payments for consulting, giving speeches and the like."
Another "freebie" sore point has gone unremarked; the underwriting of CME (Continuing Medical Education) credits by Big Pharma isn't mentioned. It would appear that this potentially valuable "gimme" will remain untouched by these new efforts. Actually, that doesn't really bother me: presuming that CME courses undergo at least as much scrutiny as insurance ones do, I don't think there's much danger of "contamination."
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