PharmedOut is pleased to confirm that we have raised enough funds to commit to holding a 2015 conference, with a June date to be determined. If you know of any academic or other meetings in June 2015 that might conflict, please let us know!
Our interns staffed a booth at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's International Conference on Diabetes this past July 18th-19th. Conference attendees were excited to stop by PharmedOut's booth, read project materials, and share personal experiences with sales reps.
Sadly, Nicole Dubowitzis departing her position as PharmedOut project manager this month to pursue an MPH at the George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health. But never fear, she will continue writing PharmedOut's newsletter each month! Anyone who has interacted with Nicole knows that she has done a fabulous job for the last 2½ years, and we will miss her terribly. If you would like to send good wishes, Nicole’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.In the meantime, we are looking for a new project manager to begin this fall.
PharmedOut's Resource of the Month: Our Don't Be Duped brochure explains the manipulative tactics used by drug reps, and how prescribers can identify and report illegal off-label marketing.
July's PharmedOut Fodder: Sunshine Still Misses CME
One story in July's News Round-Up barely made waves in the media, but it made PharmedOut do a double-take. The announcement was that continued medical education (CME) would no longer be exempt from the Affordable Care Act's "Physician Payments Sunshine" provision requiring drug companies to disclose any payments to physicians.
This is an important issue for PharmedOut since one of our primary goals is to rid CME of drug industry influence. Physicians are required to obtain CME credits each year to renew their medical licenses, but CME options are frequently funded by pharmaceutical companies looking to promote a treatment or "disease awareness." At first, this news seemed to imply that drug companies would have to disclose payments made to physician speakers or authors involved in CME. That would allow conscientious physicians to avoid, or at least be aware of, CME activities with drug company influence.
However, further inspection clarified that the change will not have the impact we hoped. The vast majority of drug company CMEs are produced through third-party medical education and communication companies (MECCs), who are hired to create pharma-friendly content with cooperative physicians. Drug companies are not currently required to disclose indirect payments, so most physician payments for involvement in industry-funded CME will continue to fly under the radar.
"Indirect payments" have long provided a loophole that needs to be closed. Middlemen between drug companies and physicians come in the form of MECCs, ghostwriters, PR companies, and others who obscure trails of money and influence in medicine. CMS's new wording on the exemption appears to have been done for "consistency" reasons, but the outcome won't be consistent with the intentions of the Physicians Payment Sunshine Act.
We can voice our concerns by going to www.regulations.gov and "submitting a comment" on CMS-1612-P. Tell CMS that indirect payments should not be exempt from reporting requirements, and help us raise the standard for CME.
News Round-Up (for more, please follow @pharmed_out on Twitter!)
In case you missed the June 13 event "Evidence for New Medical Products: Implications for Patients and Health Policy", co-sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and the National Center for Health Research, videos of the talks and panels are now online.
The Senate's July 17 hearing on improving patient safety is available online. Witnesses included John James PhD, founder of Patient Safety America; Tejal Gandhi MD MPH, President of the National Patient Safety Foundation; and Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumer Union's Safe Patient Project.