Posted by

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:

To: Vera Sharav, 12/6/02

Dear Vera,

When I was preparing for my board exams in neurology in the mid to late 60's,
I could hardly find a course anywhere in the country, to take to assist me.
Eventually I found a neurology/neuroradiology course being given at the U.
of Missouri Medical Center in remote Columbia, Mo. I took a jet to St.
Louis and then an ancient DC-3 to get to Columbia. This was CME before CME
was invented and made an academia cash cow. There were just a handful of us
and it was to be some time yet before the physician glut had compromised
physicians and all of medical academia and the money boys of Big Pharma
moved in and mopped up as in this article with not a bit of hyperbole as to
how near-complet the patient betrayal, the medical sell-out, long-since
complete throughout psychiatry and all of medical academia. Without the
medical ethics curricula they have spawned over the past 15 years or so,
there would be no such thing as "medical ethics." This article should be
circulated to the public as widely as possible. In the US, every patient is
a profit-point; we spend more money per patient per year than in any country
in the world and still cannot provide the most basic, essential medical care
for 42 million Americans. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that
while we spend billions on profit-making, non-essential and, entirely
unnecessary care, while untold amounts of essential and emergent care goes
un-provided for the simple reason that it is not income-generating. Consider
all of the invented, "diseases" of psychiatry, not one an actual disease.
In the US, medical academia and the medical profession as a whole has
reached a fundamentally anti-Hippocratic place.


Fred Baughman, MD]

---- Original Message -----
From: "veracare" 
Subject: When Doctors Go to Class, Industry Often Foots the Bill_WSJ


  Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
  A front page article in The Wall Street Journal by Scott Hensley
  sheds further light on the corruption of medical ethics by focusing
  on a drug marketing ploy that is promoted as "continuing medical
  CME courses have been transformed into pharmaceutical company sales pitches.
  Doctors who clamor for freebies shamelessly conspire with the drug companies
  by pretending that sales pitches for new and upcoming drugs-- some
  still in development--are "educational" sessions.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
this is
what they all do--they conspire. And when they have maxed out all the drugs
they can prescribe for the initial diagnosis/disease, they invent another.
The betrayal of the patient has been complete, the sell-out to industry,

  They pretend as they wine and dine at lavish company paid-for dinners.
  The vulgarity exhibited by the physicians--who are industry's accomplices
  in this charade--is especially disconcerting for those of us who assumed
  that (except for a few "rotten apples") doctors have personal integrity and
  follow professional ethics standards.  In this latest expose, The Journal
  reports that FDA has been unable to hold in check doctors who hawk the
  wares of their commercial sponsors for unapproved uses.
  Doctors who engage in such activities deserve no more respect
  than snake oil salesmen.
  The Journal reports that a psychiatrist who was about to make a pitch
  for a new antidepressant is reported to have begun his presentation
  with the following opener:  "Ever hear of Prozac poop-out?"
  "Many chuckled at the reference to long-term patients on the
  famous antidepressant who relapse."
  One might ask, what would these doctors and their sponsoring drug
  companies do, if a cure for depression were developed and
  patients didn't relapse?? Would medical cures spell financial ruin for
  this unholy alliance?
  A lawsuit claims that Warner-Lambert used continuing education as one
  method for causing doctors to write inappropriate prescriptions for Neurontin.
  Because the suit charges that Medicaid was defrauded of hundreds of millions
  of dollars, the federal government has joined as a co-plaintiff.

  When Doctors Go to Class, Industry Often Foots the Bill
  Lectures Tend to Feature Pills But Drug Firms Deny Influence
  Dec 4, 2002
  Nearly 400 doctors crowded the Astor Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis in
  Times Square last June for a free dinner of filet mignon and red snapper and
  a lecture on depression drugs.
  The speaker, psychiatrist Jay Fawver, cued his computer slide show and
  loosened up the  audience like a Borscht Belt pro: "Ever hear of Prozac
  poop-out?" Many chuckled at the reference to long-term patients on the
  famous antidepressant who relapse. Near the end of the talk, Dr. Fawver
  brought up an experimental medicine called duloxetine, which is designed to
  help doctors treat difficult depression patients. Duloxetine's maker, Eli
  Lilly & Co., paid for the dinner and lecture. It hopes to get approval next
  year to sell the drug under the name Cymbalta.
  Best of all for the doctors: The dinner and talk counted as two hours of
  credit toward their annual requirements for continuing medical education, or

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
this too is conspiracy]


  Courses such as this one are supposed to help doctors keep pace with
  advances in medical knowledge. Once put on primarily by nonprofit medical
  societies and academic institutions, the courses increasingly are sponsored
  by drug companies and organized by for-profit medical-education firms. The
  risk: the courses tilt toward promoting the corporate sponsors' drugs.
    Drug-company interest in CME has been building for years, but it has
  intensified since the industry adopted a voluntary code of sales conduct in
  July that emphasizes educating, rather than entertaining, physicians.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
voluntary, that is a laugh]

    The code bars currying doctors' favor with resort junkets, tickets to sports
  events or free tanks of gas -- all gambits used in the past. In response,
  manufacturers are stepping up their involvement in continuing education.
  Growing Reliance

    The growing reliance on corporate sponsorship also means that drug
  companies rather than doctors often determine the overall agenda for CME.
  Doctors are hearing a lot more about medical conditions that can be treated
  with expensive brand-name drugs and less about subjects from which
  manufacturers can't profit, such as psychotherapy, autism and domestic
    violence, some medical educators say.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
not a single psychiatric
condition diagnosis is an actual disease/abnormality/medical condition.
"Medicine" is the art of healing disease. In this sense no psychiatric
condition being a disease, psychiatry is not part of the art or science of
medicine. Their is nothing objective about psychiatry or psychology,
therefore they are in no way science.]

  The educational firms that now run many CME courses depend on the goodwill
  of the drug companies for their livelihood, says Arnold Relman, a former
  editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. Education providers
  "are not going to be paid if they don't speak well of the companies'
  products," Dr. Relman adds -- an assertion the providers deny.
  Thirty-six states require doctors to take continuing education to maintain
  their medical licenses. In those states, the average requirement is about 27
  hours of lectures or seminars a year. Drug companies now underwrite many
  courses offered by nonprofit universities and professional societies, as
  well as by for-profit companies. At the typical medical school, more than
  40% of funding for CME comes from commercial sponsors, compared with 17% in
  1994, according to the nonprofit Society for "Leslie Baer"; "Christine
  Stencel"; "Laura Rodriguez"; "Jessica Aungst"; "Jim Jensen"; "Andrew Pope";
  "Jennifer Otten";;; "Sandra McDermin";
  "Jamie Casey"Academic Continuing Medical Education.
  Government and industry guidelines forbid manufacturers from directly
  controlling the courses. But there isn't aggressive enforcement,
  and there are plenty of ways to influence them. Drug makers, for instance,
  may suggest speakers as long as the education provider has the final say.
  In a so-called whistle-blower lawsuit pending in federal court in Boston, a
  former employee of Warner-Lambert Co. has accused the ompany of hand-picking
  speakers and signing off on their presentations about unapproved uses of
  Neurontin, an epilepsy drug. The courses, given around the country, were
  supposed to have been prepared by ndependent education providers.
  The suit claims that by means of its role in continuing education, among
  other actions, Warner-Lambert caused doctors to write inappropriate
  prescriptions for Neurontin through at least 1998. That, in turn, cost the
  Medicaid insurance program for the poor hundreds of millions of dollars, the
  suit claims. The federal government has joined the suit as a co-plaintiff,
  seeking unspecified compensation for the alleged overpayments.
  Pfizer Inc. acquired Warner-Lambert in 2000. Spokeswoman Mariann Caprino
  says Pfizer won't comment on activities  at Warner-Lambert "many years
  before we were involved. However, all of Pfizer's CME programs are conducted
  within the appropriate guidelines and are based on solid, scientific
    Drug companies are prohibited from promoting their medicines for uses other
  than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration. CME courses, by
  contrast, may discuss unapproved uses of commercially available drugs, which
  doctors are free to prescribe as they see fit, or experimental drugs. The
  courses thus potentially become a backdoor way  for companies to get the
  word out more broadly about their products.
    For drug giant Lilly, that was one benefit of the CME course last year at
  the Times Square Marriott. Through this and similar courses, the
  Indianapolis-based company helped generate buzz about Cymbalta, the
  depression drug, long before its expected approval next year.
    Lilly's goal in such courses "is to disseminate scientific information in
  an objective and nonpromotional way," says  spokesman Robert Smith. Lilly
  didn't control the content of the depression course, and attendees heard
  about multiple products, as well as the science underlying depression
  treatments, Mr. Smith says. All of these attributes are required by
  the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, a nonprofit group
  whose board is drawn from medical associations and hospital groups.
  Optima Educational Solutions, a closely held company outside Chicago, was
  paid more than $2 million to organize the depression lecture series. Angelo
  Grossi, the company's president, says he has had "an explosion of orders"
  from drug makers since July, when the new marketing code went into effect.
  Optima put together the depression curriculum, including the standardized set
  of slides used by lecturers. The small company also obtained accreditation,
  found speakers and rounded up attendees.
  Optima says its depression course ran for five months, ending in September,
  with a dozen doctors delivering talks toa total of about 5,400 people in
  cities from coast to coast.
  The medical-education company says all of its courses are prepared by leading
  medical experts but aren't reviewed or approved beforehand by Lilly or other
  sponsoring companies. Mr. Grossi says Lilly's drug deserved on the merits to
  be included in the depression course. He also says he thinks he  would get
  future business from Lilly even if he didn't include its drug because Lilly
  had funded previous Optima programs that didn't include a drug Lilly was
  Dr. Fawver, the Fort Wayne, Ind., psychiatrist who gave the Times Square
  talk, says that while Lilly's new drug was featured in the set of slides
  Optima provided, he would have discussed the medicine anyway when surveying
  the latest treatments. He says his talk wasn't scripted by either Optima or
  Lilly. Optima says that only 3% of the attendees questioned the course's
  objectivity in a survey the company administered afterward.
  Optima declines to say what it paid Dr. Fawver. He says the gig was a
  financial "break-even situation" for him, given the patient fees he had to
  forgo back home. Lectures generally pay from $1,000 to $5,000 or more each.
  The pleasure of teaching and the chance to help colleagues stay current draw
  him to CME, Dr. Fawver says.
    Blurring the Lines
    Psychiatry is a particularly hot area for industry-sponsored courses
  because companies are coming out with many new drugs in the field and new
  uses of existing ones. The lines between education and promotion can blur in
  other specialties, too. AstraZeneca PLC paid bonuses to sales
  representatives based on how many doctors they recruited for a class on
  gastrointestinal disease it sponsored in recent months, a former AstraZeneca
  employee says.
  AstraZeneca spokeswoman Rachel Bloom-Baglin says, "To the extent that such a
  field-initiated contest may have occurred, it was not within the company's
  policy," which forbids financial incentives to sales reps to boost
    "We are not aware of any such contests at the present time," she adds.
  The free half-day course on gastro-esophageal reflux disease, the kind of
  serious heartburn that can cause permanent damage, was held at 32 hotels
  across the country through last month.
  AstraZeneca, maker of heartburn drugs Prilosec and Nexium, paid the
  Cleveland Clinic, a top teaching hospital, to organize the course, as well
  as related self-study programs. The cover of a brochure describing the
  course that was mailed to doctors across the country is purple, the same
  color as the company's heartburn capsules and its corporate logo.
  Only 1% of doctors participating in the Cleveland Clinic class on
  gastrointestinal disease supported by AstraZeneca reported detecting any
  commercial bias, William Carey, the clinic's continuing-education director,
  Institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic need industry financial support
  because "expenses for most CME activities exceed the amount that can
  reasonably be met by registration fees," Dr. Carey says. As recently as the
  mid-1990s, most of the courses ran primarily on fees, which doctors can
  deduct from their income for tax purposes.
  But many physicians have grown accustomed to industry-subsidized education
  and now resist paying even modest amounts to attend classes. That makes it
  tough for universities and hospitals to charge doctors the full freight for
  course costs. As a result, these institutions now routinely take money from
  the drug industry.
  Last year, direct commercial support for continuing medical education was
  $569 million, up 22% from 2000, according to the accreditation council. When
  spending on related exhibits and advertising is included, the industry share
  of support stood at $729 million last year, or 62%, of the $1.18 billion
  total spent for continuing medical education, according to the accreditation
  council. Admission fees and expenditures by universities and other
  nonprofits provide the balance.
  Drug-company support for the courses began growing in the 1980s. In the early
  1990s, an explosion of boondoggles offering credit became the subject of
  Senate hearings. That led to some reform, including stricter accreditation
  requirements and in some cases higher-quality courses.
  The FDA, concerned about the promotion of drugs for unapproved uses, laid out
  guidelines in the early 1990s to prevent companies from using the
  educational system as a marketing tool. The main criteria: that courses be
  accredited and that drug companies not control course preparation, delivery
  or content. The agency sent warning letters to some companies that had
  supported the research of doctors who later gave continuing medical
  education speeches about off-label uses of drugs.
  But First Amendment free-speech litigation in the 1990s spearheaded by the
  Washington Legal Foundation, a free-market advocacy group funded by drug
  makers and other manufacturers, successfully curtailed certain FDA efforts
  to restrict drug-company communication with doctors. The upshot is that the
  agency hasn't aggressively enforced its own guidelines.
  Audience Laughing
  Many physicians view industry-sponsored courses -- even those that follow all
  the rules -- as verging on infomercials.
  Diana Koziupa, a psychiatrist at the Pennsylvania Foundation, a group
  practice in Sellersville, Pa., recalls some of her audiences laughing during
  a lecture series she presented in late 1999 and 2000. Glaxo Wellcome PLC
  sponsored the course, and some attendees were audibly amused when the
  treatment of choice in a series of hypothetical depression cases turned out
  every time to be Wellbutrin, which is made by Glaxo.
    "We were trying to make it less of an advertisement for Wellbutrin, and we
  didn't succeed," Dr. Koziupa says. That was because the obligatory slide
  presentation -- which was prepared by Projects in Knowledge, a Secaucus,
  N.J.,  medical-education company hired by Glaxo -- put a heavy emphasis on
  the drug.
  Still, she says her talk wasn't scripted by either Projects in Knowledge or
  the drug  company. "I talk around the slides, as most speakers do. It's not
  just Vanna White turning the letters," Dr. Koziupa says. She continues to
  deliver industry-sponsored presentations to supplement her income and because
  she enjoys lecturing. She says she can't recall what she was paid for the
  depression talks.
  Glaxo merged with SmithKlineBeecham PLC in late 2000. GlaxoSmithKline PLC
  spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne says the manufacturer wasn't involved in
  decisions about the Wellbutrin presentation. "The contract with the vendor
  requires that it be independent medical education, and we believe this
  program was conducted accordingly," she says.
  GlaxoSmithKline declines to say what it paid Projects In Knowledge. The
  education company says in a written statement that physicians who attended
  the lectures unanimously praised them for being informative and "free from
  commercial bias."
  David Stout, president of GlaxoSmithKline's U.S. pharmaceuticals group, says
  CME offers a valuable way to communicate with doctors. "I've always held CME
  in very high regard," he says.
  Having independent educational companies prepare the courses makes the
  classes credible, he says. And doctors, he adds, "need the CME credit."
  Some academic doctors say industry dollars are essential. "For academic
  medicine to not avail itself of the resources of the pharmaceutical industry
  and private sector would be foolish," says Jeffrey Lieberman, professor of
  psychiatry at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a paid
  speaker for a number of industry-sponsored CME courses. "It would be like
  major sports saying they won't take advertising from Nike.
    "The problem is where CME meets marketing," Dr. Lieberman says. That's a
  growing concern, he says, but the "bedrock of professional propriety" among
  physicians, combined with existing guidelines for commercial sponsorship,
  will protect against distortion of CME.
    In some quarters, a just-say-no stance toward industry-funded education is
  coalescing. "We docs make very respectable incomes, and we should be able to
  budget" for CME, without industry support, says Frederick Sierles, a
  psychiatrist at Finch University of Health Sciences, in North Chicago, Ill.
  Five years ago, before he took over responsibility for CME in his
  Dr. Sierles says industry-sponsored speakers were allowed. As a result,
  continuing education focused on drugs sold by the corporate sponsors, rather
  than  other important areas, such as psychotherapy, medical ethics and
  Now, Dr. Sierles says his department doesn't do any industry-sponsored CME.
  Instead, it budgets about $8,000 a year to pay modest fees and expenses for
  monthly guest lectures.
   Write to Scott Hensley at scott.hensley@wsj.com10.
    Updated December 4, 2002
  FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted (C ) material the use of which
  has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such
  material is made available to advance understanding of ecological,
  political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical,
  and social justice issues, etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair
  use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the
  US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this
  material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior
  general interest in receiving similar information for research and
  educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use
  copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you
  must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)