“Continuing medical education – a great way to educate physicians”…!

I kid you not – someone out there really said that – but it was Scott Lassman and he’s senior assistant general counsel at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) – so we can all trust what he says… NOT.

He went further and defended the practice of discussing off-label uses for drugs — uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration — in the courses. “A lot of times, the regulatory process lags behind the science,” he said. “I think it’s a benefit for physicians…”

But what about the patients, Scott?

“Most of what doctors know about drugs comes from the industry, and that’s not healthy,” said Jerry Avorn, a Harvard Medical School professor and critic of the sponsorships. “Academic organizations lend their names to courses that are nothing more than infomercials.”

For doctors, though, drug company funding “makes it very difficult to know what research to believe,” said J. Gregory Rosenthal, an Ohio retinal surgeon and a founder of Physicians for Clinical Responsibility, a group pushing for tighter controls on conflicts of interest in medicine. “Even at the (specialty) academy level, you can’t go onto a Web site without being confronted by sponsorship logos.”

Rosenthal will testify today in a hearing before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which is looking into physician links with the drug industry. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), the chairman, said the commercial sponsorship of courses creates a conflict of interest.

“It appears that everyone profits from this pervasive system of gifts and payments, except the consumer,” Kohl said.

Read the entire article here (by Elizabeth Williamson and Christopher Lee in the Washington Post).

You can learn more about Shire Pharmaceuticals and the latest Continuing Medical Education (CME) scam here at The Carlat Psychiatry Blog.

[Thanks to Ken K for alerting me to this.]

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