PharmedOut Newsletter
June 2015

Recent Project News

  • Registration is still open for the PharmedOut CME conference on June 11-12, "The Real Risks of Rx Drugs". Registrations after June 4th will incur a $25 late fee, so register now!
  • On Tuesday, May 12th, PharmedOut discovered that D.C.'s AccessRx law, which requires pharmaceutical companies to report payments made in the District, was in jeopardy of being repealed during a D.C. Council Budget Markup meeting scheduled for May 14th. What followed were two days of intense work and outreach. 

    project manager Alessandra Hirsch coordinated a flash campaign, flooding the D.C. Council's Committee on Health and Human Services with "one-pagers," phone calls, and a letter signed by 50 D.C. residents and concerned scientists. On the morning of the vote, Alessandra was on the phone with councilmember aides, briefing them on the importance of AccessRx. Just an hour later, the repeal was defeated in a 3-to-1 victory. Thanks to Alessandra, AccessRx lives on.
  • On May 13th, Dr. Fugh-Berman was interviewed for CBS Chicago about flibanserin, also known as the "female Viagra." Although the drug's manufacturer, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, cites sexism as the reason the FDA has not approved flibanserin, Dr. Fugh-Berman cites the science: “15 percent of the women in flibanserin trials dropped out because of side effects of sedation and nausea and fatigue," and "it hasn’t been tested long-term.” An FDA Advisory Committee meeting, open to the public, will be held June 4th.
  • On May 19th, the American Pharmacists Association wrote about the FDA hearing on homeopathic products and Dr. Fugh-Berman's testimony: “Homeopathic products, even if they are not truly homeopathic, get a pass" from FDA, she said, and named some examples.
  • Science 2.0 covered the flibanserin issue with an article on May 28th. Dr. Fugh-Berman is quoted as saying, "It's not sexist for the FDA not to approve a drug that it doesn’t believe is effective or safe. It’s a classic marketing technique to first create a problem, and then sell the solution, and that's what’s going on here."
  • PharmedOut's Resource of the Month: Even if you can't make the PharmedOut conference, there are other ways to support our work. Please see here for more information!
June's PharmedOut Fodder: Psychiatry Under The Influence

Pharmaceutical company influence strongly pervades the field of psychiatry, from drug rep visits in both medical schools and private practices, to the television ads broadcast to consumers, to where it all starts with the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM).

The DSM, a glossary for all psychiatric conditions, medicalizes the human experience today more than ever. For example, grief lasting a month after a loved one dies, once considered normal, is now grounds for an antidepressant prescription. What changed?

Though we eagerly await all of the presentations at PharmedOut's upcoming conference, Lisa Cosgrove PhD's talk on "Psychiatry Under The Influence", also the title of her new book, is especially bound to resonate with people from all fields. Dr. Cosgrove, a professor at the University of Massachusetts and fellow at Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, will discuss the most recent, controversial edition of the DSM and the integrity of its diagnostic boundaries. Does a "pill for every ill" really help people, or is it causing a health and financial burden? Dr. Cosgrove will examine this question and more in the state of psychiatry. 

For more information about Dr. Cosgrove's talk and the conference, please visit Conference abstracts are here.

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

May 1: New York Times: "Speedy Drug Approvals Have Become the Rule, Not the Exception" by Margot Sanger Katz

May 1: New York Times: "Bill to Speed Approvals for Drugs Is Cut Back" by Sabrina Tavernise

May 3: New York Times: "Long-Term Data on Complications Adds to Criticism of Essure Contraceptive Implant" by Roni Caryn Rabin

May 4: FTC: "Sale Slash Charged With Using 'Fake News' Websites, False Weight-Loss Claims, Phony Celebrity Endorsements, and Spam Email to Sell Their Unproven Dietary Supplements"

May 5: National Journal: "Washington's Interest in Precision Drugs is Innovation, Not Cost" by Caitlin Owens 

May 5: New York Times: "Runaway Drug Prices" by The Editorial Board

May 7: New York Times: "Company Creates Bioethics Panel on Trial Drugs" by Katie Thomas

May 7: WSJ Pharmalot: "Drug Maker Sues FDA Over Free Speech Right to Promote Off-Label" by Ed Silverman

May 11: New Yorker: "Overkill" by Atul Gawande

May 14: WSJ Pharmalot: "Generic ADHD Drug Maker Locks Horns With FDA" by Ed Silverman

May 15: National Journal: "Has That Drug Been Tested On Women?" by Zach C. Cohen

May 15: BMJ: "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: protecting the private good?" by Jeanne Lenzer

May 23: Modern Healthcare: "Drugmakers funnel payments to high-prescribing doctors" by Bob Herman

May 26: New York Times: "The University of Minnesota’s Medical Research Mess" by Carl Elliott

May 27: WSJ Pharmalot: "FDA Wants to Know Whether Spouses Influence how Drug Ads are Perceived" by Ed Silverman

May 29: WSJ Pharmalot: "Will the 21st Century Cures Bill Lower Standards for Some Drug Approvals?" by Ed Silverman

May 29: Wall Street Journal: "An ASCO Primer: Which Drug Makers are Pursuing Which Kinds of Therapies" by Denise Roland

May 29: Lown Institute: "The Conflict Denialists Strike Back" by Shannon Brownlee

Check These Out!

Need help spotting bad science in medical journals? Here's an infographic.

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