PharmedOut Conference: a Prescription for Conflict or Prescription for Rhetoric?

Today at Georgetown there is a gathering of those who resent industry support of Continuing Medical Education (CME) to bring state of the art education to physicians, but rather live in the world of old medicine.

Merrill Goozner formerly with Center for Science in the Public Interest and now free lancing with the pink sheet (a regulatory journal) wrote this week about the conference:

FDA Key-Notes Anti-Industry CME Conference

On June 25, Georgetown University’s Pharmed-Out project, organized by professor Adriane Fugh-Berman, an alternative and complementary medicine specialist, will hold an all-day conference aimed at jump-starting a movement to accomplish the IOM goal. She expects more than 100 people to attend “Prescription for Conflict: Should Industry Fund Continuing Medical Education?”

The question in the conference title is rhetorical. “We think industry and education should be separate,” Fugh-Berman said. “Industry has no place in the education of health care professionals.”

FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein will be conference keynote speaker.

(It was verified that Joshua Sharfstein was unaware that it was an anti-industry CME conference and they failed to notify him he was the “keynote speaker)”.

 Other speakers include Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist who runs his own “industry-free” CME newsletter, and Paul Thacker, an investigator on the staff of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

As we previously reported the original titles for the conference presentations include:

Those Who Have the Gold Make the Rules: Drug Companies and Medical Knowledge,” and “What’s Known About Industry Influence on Continuing Education of Prescribers?”

The New York Times describe this conference “will highlight the arguments on both sides” They have 10 minutes set aside for a representative from Pfizer in an 8 hour program this is hardly what one would consider highlighting both sides of the argument.

As we have described the organizer of the conference Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman is a committed to promoting alternative medicine.   Her total distain for commercial support of CME lead Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman to finish a letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) with this call “”LET US NOT BE A LAPDOG TO BIG PHARMA. RATHER THAN SITTING CONTENTEDLY IN OUR MASTER’S LAP, LET US TURN AROUND AND BITE SOMETHING TENDER. FREEDOM CALLS.”

What in the world is she talking about!!!

Is this the type of “rhetoric” we can expect to see from today’s conference, Georgetown should be ashamed.

This is America you are entitled to your opinions but let’s not hide our personal opinions and beliefs in alternative medicine behind a guise of a debate or thoughtful discussion.   


Update from the Georgetown conference

· There are ~80 people in attendance including speakers, mostly academics

· Daniel Carlat just blamed commercial support of CME for Vioxx on the death of 45,000 Americans (nothing about anyone they saved).

· Another speaker recommended that Pfizer be driven from the planet



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