Another new book examining the physician-pharma connection--this one, written by Jerome Kassirer, M.D, a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and current professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, is called On the Take. From the article:
- While it is difficult to tell how widespread these deals are, Kassirer said the best evidence may have accidentally come from the legislative arm of the pharmaceutical industry itself when it revealed in January 2003 that most of the top medical authorities in this country, and virtually all of the top speakers on medical topics, are employed in some capacity by one or more of the pharmaceutical companies....
In his book, Kassirer details the varied types of gifts a drug company might provide to doctors. They include everything from pens and pads of paper to free meals, electronic devices and trips to exotic resorts.
Industries also pay doctors bonuses for enrolling patients in clinical trials, provide consulting and speaking fees, and offer large grants for educational purposes, he said.
"A doctor might be invited to become a speaker for a company and go to a meeting and get paid for it," he said. In some instances, the industries will pay up to $100,000 for a single speaking fee.
He said the scope of the dealing is not just limited to physicians, either. Medical organizations such as the American Thoracic Society, the Society for Critical Care Medicine and the Endocrine Society, for example, are also deeply involved with the industry, he said. Many of these organizations receive large payments that they use to support scientific meetings, professional education and ongoing operating expenses, he said. According to his book, the drug industry alone spent $2 billion in 2001 for meetings and events for physicians.
I can't help but wonder if he mentions anything about the PhRMA Code, the OIG Guidance, the Advamed Code, and all the other measures being taken to address these concerns.
Could this, along with Angell's book, be enough to spur another round of regulatory scrutiny and public backlash against CME?
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