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Archive for April 28th, 2008

From today’s New York Times:

Dr. Robert J. Alpern, dean of the Yale School of Medicine, said that the university presently had no limits on participation in company speakers’ bureaus, but that because of the medical college association’s report he was thinking of taking them on.

“I don’t have a problem with doctors making $3,000 or $5,000 a year on the side,” he said, “but it’s a totally different thing when it’s $80,000.” Even more distasteful, Dr. Alpern said, is that the slides used in many of these presentations are created by drug makers, not the speakers.

“That’s like ghost-talking,” Dr. Alpern said.

[snort] Well, yes, yes it is. And to any of you out there who might have used or seen the 2001-2002 slides for the BE ACTIVE program, “Booga-Booga!”

Keep in mind, however, that incarnation of BE ACTIVE was a promotional program, complete with branded colors and logos. Do you expect writing and graphic design credits on an ad? Ah, but you might have expected the slides to have been designed by the person speaking to you at the time. Or maybe not — the presentation had authors, but the speaker’s bureau obviously had other people giving the presentation….so you would have known that the words being said weren’t exactly the words of the person who authorized the slides. All the speakers were lectured about how this was a promotional program, and if they weren’t comfortable with that, they shouldn’t be participating in the program.

[sigh] That was back in 2001. Why is this news now? I suspect because there aren’t enough medical breakthroughs coming from pharma research to distract us from how the rest of the system has been working. The gift horse gets its first trip to the dentist as soon as it stops winning races!

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