Life Science Compliance Update

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August 04, 2008

Business Week -- Pfizer's Fallout

Political fallout from the Pfizer decision not to fund medical communication companies (MECC's) in July, includes a Business Week article titled: Teaching Doctors—or Selling to Them? This is basically a rehash of the Pfizer MECC decision along with some free PR for Danny Carlat, MD, the gadfly anti MECC blogger (who by the way has no conflicts of interest except that his CME newsletter business will increase if he gets his way and ends commercial support of CME – update according to Dr. Carlat it was disclosed just left out by Business Week). In the interview for the article Carlat is quoted of the Pfizer decision: “It sends out a message that there’s a level of distrust about the way they (the marketing firms) operate.”

So, was Pfizer trying to send a message to all those who faithfully deliver unbiased CME? Perhaps they should have thought about their move a little closer.

The article describes a $1.2 billion dollar industry with MECC’s getting half of that and that this is a profitable sector.  I have no idea where they are getting their information, but CME has never been a very “profitable” business and the reports given to the ACCME have been skewed by about $400 million because include sponsorships to medical societies and hospitals for things like bag sponsorship and booth space which have little or nothing to do with CME. 

Also, industries of this size are by no means big industries.  When you throw numbers around you can make something sound really big when in reality it is small potatoes.

The article at the end (it is always at the end of an article that you let the guys you have been trashing get a couple of lines) outlines how several firms including Vox and ICHE have created firewalls internally by banishing them to another wing of the building, so as to avoid any conflict of interest.  Perhaps next time Business Week writes their article they will be a little less bias.  (That’s right only CME providers are required to be unbiased, how could I forget?).

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