PharmedOut Newsletter
March 2015

Recent Project News

  • Registration for #PharmedOut2015 is OPEN! After a two-year hiatus, we are excited to be holding our highly acclaimed conference on June 11-12, 2015 at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

    Our theme this year, "The Real Risks of Rx Drugs", will cover rising drug costs, polypharmacy in elders, deprescribing, industry influence on clinical guidelines, misuse of antipsychotic drugs, and more (see Fodder below). New and returning speakers will include Carolyn Clancy MD, Lisa Cosgrove PhD, Tom Finucane MD, John Powers MD, Louis Jacques MD, Sharon Levine MD, and Tom Moore.

    You can register online and please call 202-687-1191 with questions!
  • On February 15th, American Family Physician published Dr. Fugh-Berman's counterpoint on testosterone deficiency screening, "Should Family Physicians Screen for Testosterone Deficiency in Men? No: Screening May Be Harmful, and Benefits Are Unproven". It is one in a series of pro/con editorials discussing controversial issues in family medicine.
  • On February 12th, Dr. Fugh-Berman was quoted in the Seattle Times on the exorbitantly high price of new hepatitis C drugs: "This drug tends to be talked about, like, ‘we can cure hepatitis C,’” she said, "but up to a quarter of people [treated] can relapse.”
  • "Female Viagra" is back in the news! On February 16th, Dr. Fugh-Berman was interviewed for NPR's All Things Considered about the unapproved drug that claims to increase female sexual desire, flibanserin. Listen to the show or read the article. 
  • Also this month, Katie Couric did a story on flibanserin for Yahoo. Dr. Fugh-Berman was interviewed, saying "Low desire is not a medical condition, and in fact the term hypoactive sexual desire disorder has been eliminated from the latest ‘Diagnostic [and] Statistical Manual. Low libido can be caused by a number of different things, including diabetes, depression, other medical conditions, medications — particularly antidepressants and relationship problems."
  • And, on February 18th, the Boston Herald quoted Dr. Fugh-Berman's contrast of flibanserin with Viagra: "It’s not a very effective drug. It has to be taken every day and we don’t know the long-term effects. ... Viagra and similar drugs actually work for erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is not libido. It’s really different."
  • PharmedOut's Resource of the Month: Want to help us promote our conference? Share our Save The Date flyer and don't forget to use the hashtag #PharmedOut2015 on social media.
March's PharmedOut Fodder: The Real Risks of Rx Drugs

Maybe we just have conference fever (is there a drug for that?), but we can't resist telling you about our fifth annual conference, "The Real Risks of Rx Drugs". After taking last year off to work on projects past and new (like this newsletter), on June 11-12 we will again bring together health care providers, policymakers, advocates, media, students and others to discuss some of the most important issues facing our health care system.

The 2015 conference will shed light on the dark side of prescription medications, such as opioid overuse, high costs that drive up spending and bankrupt people, pharmaceutical marketing to medical students and residents, research misconduct, and much more. We will welcome the accomplished speakers listed above, and a full agenda will be announced soon. Carolyn Clancy MD, former director of the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research and current Interim Under Secretary for Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs, will be our keynote speaker. 

The first PharmedOut conference was at Georgetown University in 2010 and honed in specifically on the pharmaceutical industry's role in continuing medical education (CME). It was such a success that we held three more June conferences here on campus. Dozens of speakers have addressed the gamut of issues pertaining to marketing pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices, and we consistently receive rave reviews about the expert talks, compelling discussions, and unparalleled networking opportunities. Our interdisciplinary conferences aren’t just for doctors: this may be the only CME event attended by policymakers, lawyers, sociologists, nurses, government employees, industry, consumer advocates and students of such diverse disciplines. 
More information about past conferences, including how to order DVD footage, can be found on our website.

Ready to register? Please do so here! For more information, please do not hesitate to call Project Manager Alessandra Hirsch at 202-687-1191, or email at A limited number of scholarships will be available for students and residents. We look forward to seeing you!


News Round-Up 
(for more, please follow @pharmed_out on Twitter!)

January 28: Baltimore Sun: "House Republicans propose changes for NIH, FDA" by John Fritze

February 2: U.S. News and World Report: "6 Ways to Be Your Own Health Advocate" by Elizabeth Renter

February 2: WebMD: "Medication Problems May Spur Many Child ER Trips" by Amy Norton

February 3: Washington Post: "GNC, Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens accused of selling adulterated ‘herbals’" by Sarah Kaplan

February 6: New York Times: "Knee Replacement Device Unapproved, but Used in Surgery" by Marshall Allen and Olga Pierce

February 9: Slate: "Are Your Medications Safe? The FDA buries evidence of fraud in medical trials. My students and I dug it up." by Charles Seife

February 10: New York Times: "New Dosages of Old Drugs Are Used to Raise Their Prices" by Barry Meier

February 11: International Business Times: "Drug Ads Are Hard To Read: FDA Suggests A Fix, Admitting Bungled Approach" by Amy Nordrum

February 11: WSJ Pharmalot: "AstraZeneca Pays $7.9M to Settle Kickback Charges Paid to a PBM" by Ed Silverman

February 12: Forbes: "Are Sky-High Prices For New Drugs Justified?" by Arlene Weintraub

February 17: New York Times: "Doctors Strive to Do Less Harm by Inattentive Care" by Gina Kolata

February 18: Slate: "Feminists Claim the FDA Is Blocking “Female Viagra” Because of Sexism. They’re Wrong." by Amanda Marcotte

February 19: Wall Street Journal: "Why Are So Many Toddlers Taking Psychiatric Drugs?" by Murali Doraiswamy 

February 19: Time: "Candidate to Lead FDA Has Close Ties to Big Pharma" by Massimo Calabresi

February 23: Pacific Standard: "Poison Pill: How the American opiate epidemic was started by one pharmaceutical company." By Mike Mariani

February 24: New York Times: "Shire, Maker of Binge-Eating Drug Vyvanse, First Marketed the Disease" by Katie Thomas

February 25: USA Today: "CDC: Deaths soared as narcotic painkillers grew popular" by Donna Leinwand Leger

February 28: New York Times: "Nothing Is Wrong With Your Sex Drive" by Emily Nagoski


Check These Out!

On May 1-2, 2015 in Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics will hold a conference celebrating the end of their Lab on Institutional Corruption. Get more information on the agenda and how to register here.

Make sure you don't miss this funny yet serious "Last Week Tonight" episode on how Pharma markets their drugs to doctors.

Another relevant video is Retro Report's 12-minute documentary on vaccines; it touches on the different languages of scientists and the public, and the crucial role of the media.

Use this helpful infographic by the National Center for Health Research to understand what's at stake with the medical device tax.

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