Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Joe Carlson over at Modern Healthcare has written a nice piece about some discussions that took place in Denver this last week at the Association of Health Care Journalists.  The topic was the forthcoming disclosure that would be required of industry payments to doctors and hospitals.

He relates a touching moment (really, I'm not being sarcastic), when a doctor expressed frustration at the idea that a legitimate commercial relationship between his hospital and a pharmaceutical company might now be viewed with suspicion.  After all, federal law encourages such relationships to help commercialize and spread the clinical advantages of NIH funded research:

"It seems to me that transparency has morphed into a form of bias," said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Everyone gets painted with the same brush."

Offit noted in a different session that his hospital has received money from the drugmaker Merck. He said the money consisted of royalties paid for the RotaTeq vaccine, which was developed at his hospital and sold to the drugmaker. In the past he has declined to say what share of the royalties went to him personally.

[Susan] Chimonas [from Columbia University] countered Offit's argument by recalling the case of Dr. Charles Nemeroff, who secretly accepted more than $800,000 from drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline while managing a $9.3 million study on depression at the National Institutes of Health. GSK is the maker of the popular antidepressant Paxil.

"Unfortunately, those guys have poisoned the well for you," panelist and former Boston hospital CEO Paul Levy told Offit. "Life just isn't fair."


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