Reps to retire, social media to surge
Physicians react more positively to internet relationships with pharma. Docs spend approximately 18 mins reviewing e-promotions, in the evening, and they prefer this approach to meeting with a Company Sales Rep according to an audit by SDI. The power of social media interactions is increasing.
Twittering is old hat to patients
It's a brave new pharma-communication world out there, with more and more hospitals and docs barring drug reps and companies turning to electronic detailing to get their messages across. But the online sales pitch has just begun. Networking tools like Facebook and Twitter will soon be de rigeur, replacing blogs as the must-use online tools.
But (as is often the case) it's the patients who are ahead of the wave - a new study by v-fluence shows that patients are getting more information on meds from blogs and social-networking sites-places where drugmakers can't control their brand messages. And the information consumers find at those sites “often occurs in a manner that's not friendly or favorable to the brands,” according to the report. Blogs and forums are more likely to talk about negative side effects.
Enough of the guidelines -- time for shared responsibility and Good Relationship Practice
New guidelines by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to address conflicts of interest that "illuminated the once-shadowy financial dealings" between pharmaceutical companies and physicians took effect at the beginning of 2009. Entitled, "Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals," is voluntary. PhRMA plans to produce a directory of companies that comply with the guidelines.
Under the new code, pharmaceutical companies are barred from distributing office supplies, clothes and other gifts with company logos or product brand names to physicians and clinics. The new code also prohibits the companies from paying for physicians' meals, including those during medical education events, and requires that all grant money allocated for continuing medical education programs be handled by personnel who are not from sales and marketing departments.
The code does not cover honoraria payments.
The myPHID opinion - it is all well and proper that pharma has another set of guidelines - but physicians must step up too... GOOD RELATIONSHIP PRACTICE is simpler and more likely to secure co-responsibility. See the proposal for GRP in the PHARMONY PRINCIPLES section.
Ballsy about the ballpark
In a gutsy move, Andrew Witty of GSK has stated that the company believes an annual cap of $150k/doc/year is an appropriate amount for industry to pay to docs as part of working together. The CEO promises to make public the level of advisory fees it offers to doctors and medical academics, and will strictly cap the payments "without exception".
MyPHID call for Promotional Literacy echoed
A study in Psychological Science in the Public Interest has called many health care professionals "statistical illiterates," and cites examples of overstated benefits or adverse effects that, in some cases, had devastating results. This has made big news in the US — with ABC picking it up as their lead story where 'even doctors don't understand'. We've been saying it for a while at myPHID. Now is the time to do something about it — sponsor the Expert Session. "Many doctors, patients, journalists, and politicians alike do not understand what health statistics mean," according to the study, authored by two medical professors at Dartmouth Medical School, Steven Woloshin and Lisa M. Schwartz, and their collaborators, psychologists Gerd Gigerenzer, Wolfgang Gaissmaier and Elke Kurz-Milcke of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.
Nemeroff is off — who will be the real losers?
Charles Nemeroff, the prestigious psychiatry department chair at Emory University has resigned and now joins what is becoming Senator Grassley's assembly of a 'Non-Disclosure Breakfast Club' which has so far singled out Stanford University's Alan Schatzberg, Harvard University's Joe Biederman, Brown Universit's Martin Keller, University of Texas' Karen Wagner and John Rush, and Melissa DelBello at the University of Cincinnati for Saturday-morning Detention and ticking-off via the popular press. The reason — failure to disclose consulting arrangements with pharmaceutical companies. Yes there is a common problem here... yes the amount of monies exchanged bother us... but will one of the problems in the wake of this modern-day witchunt be that if we keep hounding society's best researchers, clinicians and academics then we will ultimately lose out. It is time to take this issue to the grown-ups to sort out — or we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Pay up and fess'up
Cephalon must pay $444 million and publicly disclose its payments to physicians in a corporate integrity agreement to bring state and federal investigations of its sales and marketing practices to a close. Cephalon has agreed to plead guilty to promoting off label use of its painkiller Actiq, a highly addictive narcotic lollipop produced to treat certain cancer patients. This is groundbreaking given that most drug and devicemaker are doing (or considering) voluntary disclosure. By early 2010 Cephalon must post a searchable database of all physicians who acted as speakers, trained as speakers or consulted for the company during 2009. Next, during the first quarter of 2011, Cephalon will have to disclose, in ten-thousand-dollar increments, the names of doctors who received any payments from the company during the previous calendar year.
Roll up, roll up, sign the disclosure pledge today
There's a transparency festival going on with Merck joining the first company to sign up to greater openness — Lilly — this week in a pledge to disclose payments to physicians. So far Johnson & Johnson said it plans to start disclosing funding for professional educational grants, AstraZeneca says it's reviewing its transparency policies, Pfizer has said it would disclose CME grants, and so has Lilly. Amgen and Abbott Labs have formed working groups to study the subject. This is in support to the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which would require pharma firms and device makers to disclose the amount of money they give to doctors. So far, 12 drug and device makers in total have promised Sen. Chuck Grassley that they are working on plans to disclose CME grants.
Grassley writes again
Senator Chuck Grassley, notably of the 'Sunshine Act' is sparked the latest conflict-of-interest probe by writing to the US NIH Director to ask about the multiple affiliations held by Marvin Konstam, a Tufts University Medical Professor. Professor Konstam is also Medical Director at Orqis, a device maker, and an outside contractor with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. At issue is oversight of federally funded researchers, and the extent to which their ties to drug and device makers could influence research. It seems that to some people you can be too rich, too thin ... and too popular.
Senator Grassley is proving a prolific writer in his campaign to shine light on the payments made by pharma. Earlier in the month Sen. Grassley shot off the latest in a series of letters to universities about their disclosures, stating that a researcher working for the University of Texas who worked on an NIH study involving GlaxoSmithKine's Paxil didn't disclose more than $150,000 in fees paid to her by the pharmaceutical firm. Grassley has also slammed Standford, Harvard and the University of Cincinnati for similar disclosure problems. Meanwhile, another 20 universities have been contacted by the Senate Finance committee over questions of whether their faculty face conflict of interest problems in their relationships with pharmas.
And now a democrat wants to make a political point
Another day, another challenge of pharmaceutical funding. The American College of Cardiology has U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) has asked the college to share information on the group's new partnership with the non-profit Cardiovascular Research Foundation. The foundation is co-sponsoring a special summit at the annual ACC convention focused on interventional cardiology. The CRF gets funding from several medical device manufacturers, including Medtronic and Boston Scientific Corp. This bothers the Senator. Perhaps pharma-baiting is key to both parties...
Since US Senator Chuck Grassley launched what is tantamount to a 'relationship witch-hunt' with the 'Sunshine Act' regarding disclosure of payments to doctors by industry, we have seen the sanctimonious 'though shalt not earn money via pharma' finger-of-blame pointed at experts in the fields of cardiology, oncology and now psychiatry. Dr. Joseph Biederman, a Harvard child psychiatrist with a global reputation whose work has helped to promote the use of antipsychotic meds in children apparently didn't report most of the $1.6 million in drug maker consulting fees he earned between 2000 and 2007.
Adverts with 'Celebrity Docs' are not an authentic interaction
Doc-celebrity endorsement of pharma products simply doesn't cut it any more. Recent adverts for Lipitor made claims that the doctor featured invented the artificial heart valve. The US congress and the medical community felt the ads were misleading--especially since the doctor is not a cardiologist and does not have a medical license and infact was one of many who worked on different types of valves. The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is "... taking a hard look at the deceptive tactics of drug companies in their direct-to-consumer advertising. Drug companies should know that they will be held accountable for the representations made in their ads."
Making a difference
Strategic Director at myPHID, Emma Parfrement will present at the inaugural conference on KOL interactions in London on September 30th. Emma will suggest ways to 'talk medicine not marketing' and will explain how to make sure all parties recognize their responsibilities in the relationship dynamic and interact accordingly.
Aligning with the ABPI
myPHID are trying to work with the ABPI to find ways to use web 2.0 tools and social networking to enhance relationships between the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry.
Developmental Literacy Initiative
myPHID announces research into the ways to increase Developmental Literacy in the medical community through training programmes. myPHID intend to work with the industry to consolidate a core group of experts to be available for training lectures about drug development to increase the commercial competencies of the medical profession such that healthcre professionals are more readily able to discern between clinical claims and commercial insights.
'Care enough to commit' campaign launched by myPHID
myPHID are reaching out to industry and medical societies to encourage them to commit to the new era of engagement.