Depression Alliance – clumsy conflicts of interest once again?

It looks like Depression Alliance (DA) is up to its old tricks again… I have written about DA in the past and criticised the part it played in the marketing of Cymbalta in the UK.

In the case of Cymbalta, the medical PR agency, Packer Forbes, worked with DA on the research and campaign for DA’s annual ‘depression awareness week’ in 2005 – which was funded by Eli Lilly & Boehringer Ingelheim. Packer Forbes also worked for Eli Lilly & Boehringer Ingelheim on the UK launch and marketing of new drug Cymbalta. You can read about it here and here.

In essence the 2005 research for National Depression Week discovered that a major problem in depression was managing the associated “general aches and pains” that come with the condition. At the time Cymbalta was being marketed as an antidepressant with added [not proven] painkilling qualities.

That was a handy coincidence, wasn’t it?

This from Packer Forbes’ website at the time:

Consumer Media Campaign
National Depression Week for Eli Lilly’s/Boehringer Ingelheim’s Cymbalta
National Depression Week is held annually by Depression Alliance, the leading UK charity for people with depression. The 2005 campaign, Pulling Together, which highlighted how people pull together to defeat the illness, was co-sponsored by Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Outcome:
– Total campaign circulation achieved: 21,569,796
– Within two months the survey report had been downloaded by more than 3,600 visitors to the Depression Alliance website
– In depth coverage by Dr Rob Hicks on Classic FM
– Further national coverage in the Times and on BBC1

So, on to DA’s annual ‘depression awareness week’ 2008. The theme that was developed for DA was The Inside Story: the impact of depression on daily life.

The press release for this year’s ‘awareness week’ finishes like this:

The report also looked at the general impact of depression on daily life and low energy was highlighted as the most distressing aspect of their depression in 75% of cases. A large majority of respondents (83%) stated that their work is adversely affected by poor quality of sleep, helping contribute to over a third (40%) being forced to lose their job.

“Sleep disturbance can have a major impact in people with depression, and this data also highlights the importance of healthcare professionals and patients working in partnership to manage their depression in a way that will not negatively impact on their sleep” concluded Emer O’Neill, Chief Executive at Depression Alliance

So sleep disturbance is a MAJOR problem for people with depression and it is important that depression is managed in way that will not negatively impact on sleep. This is IMPORTANT NEW information coming from Depression Alliance “the leading UK charity for people with depression”.

So it must be true…?

This year DA has been working with Athena Medical PR on the research and campaign for the ‘awareness week’. On the cover of the 12 page Report issued along with the ‘awareness week’ we discover another ‘partner’ The development of this survey and the report into its findings were undertaken in partnership with and funded by Servier Laboratories Limited.

Interestingly, French company Servier, makes Valdoxan (agomelatine) which is an antidepressant, but with added qualities. Says Servier “the drug’s unique profile could make it an exciting and innovative product, but it will face stiff competition from top-selling antidepressants already established in the market… As well as treating the main symptoms of depression, the drug also helps to improve daytime alertness by normalising the timing and continuity of sleep, a problem that Servier says is common in patients.

That’s handy. So Valdoxan could be just the thing patients need – as the new survey from Depression Alliance has discovered that sleep disturbance is a real problem. But hold on, The development of this survey and the report into its findings were undertaken in partnership with and funded by Servier Laboratories Limited.

That’s a bit of a coincidence isn’t it?

And here’s another coincidence – Servier Laboratories this week [02 March 2006] confirmed the UK agency support behind its new anti-depressant, Valdoxan. Athena Medical PR secured the contract to steer the brand to market. The drug is the French firm’s first foray into the UK mental health arena, with Valdoxan poised to enter the controversial and crowded market ‘during 2007’.

Valdoxan combines antidepressant efficacy with ‘favourable’ side effects – it has the additional benefit of sleep regulation in depressive patients, according to data unveiled last year.

———————-

So in 2005 we had Depression Alliance research and report, Packer Forbes, Eli Lilly & Boehringer Ingelheim, new drug Cymbalta & “general aches and pains”.

In 2008 we have Depression Alliance research and report, Athena Medical PR, Servier Laboratories, new drug Valdoxan and “sleep disturbance”.

———————-

I’m sure that most, if not all, of the GPs in the UK were sent the research and reports (as if) from Depression Alliance. I’m also sure that Lilly and Servier drug reps will have relied on the same research and reports to help sell their product.

If you want to go further back into the history of Depression Alliance and the various individuals connected to the organisation then I suggest you read here and here and here and here.

One last point – in the case of this year’s research and report, the findings were based on only 288 replies…

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Jim Thomson and the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines

The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) has its brand new shiny website now… have a look here.

It’s an interesting read – says Jim: “…The Alliance has been formed by a cross-section of European patient safety stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds…”

I think more detail is in order, Jim – who were the founders and who are the funders?

Elsewhere on the website Jim tells us (or at least the person who wrote the copy at Medicom Group tells us):

“The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines includes members and supporters from both independent and industry backgrounds, and we make sure there are never more funding partners than non-funding partners.

The actions of the EAASM are approved by the executive board which consists of seven members: four independent and three pharmaceutical industry representatives.”

Phew – that makes me feel better…

… but hold on now, who might the ‘independent’ members be, I wonder? I suppose if Jim’s past initiatives are anything to go they might include, perhaps, Amelia Mustapha, or maybe Rodney Elgie, or Neil Bindemann, perhaps Dr Chris Manning or maybe Dave Titcomb?

However, I’m sure it’ll be none of the above – but I think we should know who the independent members are – don’t you?

I have to admit, that Jim and I have a bit of a history – he’d taken exception to a previous post of mine about another of his initiatives (The Centre for Mental Health) and made some comments to put me right “…Nor do I work for Innervate. I did for a short time, while I was trying to establish the Centre for Mental Health. Oh, and on that subject, you’ll be delighted to learn that the Centre has received penny-not-a-one from GSK…”

True – very true Jim – but why, oh why, neglect to mention the £15,000 of funding that came from Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim in 2006 for the Centre… (scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page)

And why does the EAASM website have to go live with a page that says:

“Additional information will be posted soon, including for example:
• list of sponsoring companies
• funding policy”
• how to become a member/supporter
• operating prinicples”

What’s the problem – why can’t we have a list of funders/sponsoring companies NOW… what’s the big secret?

With Jim, I’ve learnt that what he doesn’t say can be more important than what he does say. I think there are a lot of questions to be answered and as you read about these people and organisations just remember Jim’s own words “…ask yourself one question… What does this person, or this organisation, have to gain from taking this position?”

So – the question is – sixth form conspiracy theory or just more big pharma astroturfing… ?

Everything you ever wanted to know about… ‘patient groups’

Well, not EVERYTHING of course! This is the fourth post in a series that recaps (in one handy place) all I’ve written so far about a particular subject. The first three ‘everythings’ have been about Alastair Benbow, Ian Hudson and Serotonin.

But what about these patient groups I hear you ask…

I’ve written quite a lot on this subject, as I feel strongly about it. The collected posts run to four pages. You’ll learn about a complex cast of characters and organisations that include:

Jim Thomson & Amelia Mustapha, Rodney Elgie, Neil Bindemann, Dr Chris Manning, Innervate Ltd, The Centre for Mental Health, The Healthwell.org, The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, Depression Alliance, The Diabetes Monitoring Forum, Primhe, the antidepressant Cymbalta, Eli Lilly, Boehringer Ingleheim, National Depression Week, MediSense, a division of Abbott Laboratories, GAMIAN-Europe, the European Patients Forum, the International Alliance of Patient Organisations, The European Patient Information Channel, Packer Forbes, the Medicom Group, the (non-existent) All Party Parliamentary Group on Depression, the Partnership for Safe Medicines, The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the Alliance for Better Medicare, Citizens for Better Medicare, Action for Access, Breaking through Barriers – Depression: The Painful Truth, Astroturfing, European Depression Day and the European Depression Association.

Jim Thomson himself has told me “What you have “uncovered” is a tissue of conjecture and you are, clearly, a master at putting two next to two and seeing several dozen.” He says it’s all a “fifth-form conspiracy theory.” That might be the case – please follow this link to the four pages of collected posts and you can make your own mind up… I suggest you read from page four backwards to page one to get the full chronological flow!

I think there are a lot of questions to be answered and as you read about these people and organisations just remember Jim’s own words “…ask yourself one question… What does this person, or this organisation, have to gain from taking this position?”

Big Pharma blogs back at us

How does the drug industry deal with us – real, live people who have something to say about the shabby way they do business and the increasingly unsafe products they punt out to the public?

“Let’s blog right back at them…”

Hence the wonderful blog from America called Drug WonksDrugwonks.com is the web log of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), a forum offering rigorous and compelling research on the most critical issues affecting current drug policy. Oh yeah?

Ah, I get the message now, it’s a forum – it’s all in the public interest – it’s got nothing to do with big pharma PR – no, sir – nothing to do big pharma PR at all…

So who is behind Drug Wonks? With the help of CL Psych (and others) I think I can tell you:

The President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, and which runs DrugWonks, is Peter J Pitts, whose day job is to be Senior Vice President for Global Health Affairs at the big public relations firm Manning, Selvage and Lee. Manning, Selvage and Lee has many big pharmaceutical accounts.

Okay then. So drug companies hire a firm to help them manage their reputations. The president of the PR firm runs a blog on the side that just, by sheer coincidence, happens to cast dispersions on those who criticize the drug industry.

There is still more to the story. Robert Goldberg, who blogs regularly at Drug Wonks, was a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and he is now Vice President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. What is the Manhattan Institute? It is a thinktank that advocates for free-market reforms. It would be fair to say that the Manhattan Institute favors a more limited role for the FDA. So who funds this Manhattan Institute? They’re not telling. But it would appear that they receive the lion’s share of their funding from a variety of corporations and foundations that advocate for laissez-faire capitalism.

CL Psych also has a new post detailing the latest Drug Wonks attack on the new blog from Dr Daniel Carlat.

I notice with interest a new post about counterfeit drugs – “Most fake drugs will come through the Web. They will be bought by kids who will use them recreationally or to resell them. Organized crime will profit and kids will suffer.” That message rings a very loud bell – you can read about the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines here.

You can also find out more about ‘Patient Groups’ and the wonderful people who are working in the public interest here.

Drug Wonks – a bunch of rich, right wing wackos masquerading as ‘experts’ or champions of the ordinary man in the street.

You decide.

Pharma TV – a typical day’s viewing leaked

I wrote about ‘Pharma TV’ back in May – here, here, here, here and here.

What I didn’t have at the time was access to any details about the kind of scheduling we might expect.

‘Gypsy Pharma Giles’ has been looking into his crystal ball(s) and is able to give us a typical day’s programming.

I simply can’t wait!

Go on… talk to me

Why not?

Why not just leave a comment and explain things to me – tell me how I’m wrong about you and your products, about you and the way you market them, about you and the way you harm people, about you and the data you kept hidden, about you and the regulators, about you and your lies.

Talk to me – I want to hear your side of the story – I really do.

Surely someone from my “visitors’ book” has something to say worth saying [except the Scientologists]:

Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Illinois

Abbott Laboratories, Gurnee, Illinois

Abbott Laboratories, Libertyville, Illinois

Accenture, United Kingdom

Adpepper.com

Allegiance Healthcare, Waukegan, Illinois

American Red Cross, National Headquarters, Washington

American Society of Clinical Oncology, Alexandria, Virginia

Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California

Anapharm, Quebec, Canada

Ashurst Morris Crisp, Edmonton, United Kingdom

Astra AB, Södertälje, Sweden

Astra Zeneca, Montchanin, Delaware

Avalanche Strategic Communications, Hackensack, New Jersey

Aventis Pasteur, Maidenhead, Windsor

Aventis Pharamceuticals, New Jersey

AXA Ireland

Bausch & Lomb, Rochester, New York

Bear Stearns Security Corporation, New York

Bayer Corporation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Biogen, West Roxbury, Massachusetts

Bircham Dyson Bell, London, London

BMG Avocats, Genève, Geneve

Boehringer Ingelheim Limited, Egham, Slough

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Danbury, Connecticut

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Redding, Connecticut

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Ridgefield, Connecticut

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Copenhagen

BKD LLP, Springfield, Missouri

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Bristol Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey

Bristol Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Plainsboro, New Jersey

Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Burson – Marsteller BVBA, Brussels

Burson Marsteller, New York

Burson Marsteller (SEA) Pte Ltd, Singapore

California State University, Northridge

Capital One Financial, Richmond, Virginia

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Church of Scientology International, Los Angeles, California

Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio

CMP Media LLC, Great Neck, New York

Collective Intellect, Boulder, Colorado

Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York

Commission Europeenne, Wezembeek-Oppem, Brabant

Corbett Healthconnect, Chicago, Illinois

Cornerstone Partners, New York

Cypress Bioscience, San Diego, California

Debevoise & Plimpton,

DOIM, Laurel, Maryland

Edelman PR, Alexandria, Virginia

Edelman, London

Edelman PR, New York

Edelman PR, Seattle, Washington

E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Delaware

Eli Lilly and Company, Europe

Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, Indiana

Elron Technologies, Israel

Elsevier Science Limited, Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

European Parliament, Brussels

Evergreen Medical Group, Kirkland, Washington

Experian Information Solutions, Roswell, Georgia

FDA, Parklawn Computer Center / DIMES HQ, Silver Spring, Maryland

Parklawn Computer Center / DIMES HQ, Rockville, Maryland

Finkelstein, Thompson & Loughran, Washington, District of Columbia

Fisher & Paykel Ltd., Northmead, New South Wales

Foote, Cone & Belding , New York

Forest Labs, New Hyde Park, New York

Genentech, Dixon, California

Genentech, San Francisco, California

General Motors Corporation, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Gerson Lehrman Group, Austin, Texas

Gilead Sciences, Boulder, Colorado

Glaxo., King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania

Glaxo, Raleigh, North Carolina

GlaxoSmithkline, Mississauga, Ontario

Glaxosmithkline S.p.A, Verona, Veneto

Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington

Haymarket Media, Garfield, New Jersey

Health and Welfare Agency Data Center, Clarksburg, California

Hearst Corporation, New York

Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Amman, Jordan

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London

Internal Revenue Service, Highland, Maryland

James, Houer, Newcome & Smiljanich, Birmingham, New Jersey

Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, Cleveland, Ohio

The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland

Josef Nopp KG, Leonding, Oberosterreich, Austria

Johnson & Johnson, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Johnson & Johnson, New Jersey

Johnson & Johnson, Europe

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Columbus, Ohio

JP Morgan Chase & Co, New York

Kaiser Permanente, El Cerrito, California

Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Los Angeles, California

Kendle, Glasgow, Scotland

King & Spalding, Washington DC

Life Science Communications, Upper Holloway, Redbridge

LNS Communications, Brookline, Massachusetts

Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

Management Centre Europe, Brussels

Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota,

McCarter & English, Newark, New Jersey

Marcus Evans, Chicago, Illinois

McCann-Erickson GuangMing Lt, Hong Kong

McCann-Erickson, London

McCann-Erickson, New York

McCann-Erickson/Torre Lazur, Denville, New Jersey

MDE Investors, Washington, DC

Medical Broadcasting Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Meditech Media, London

Medstat Systems, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Merck and Co., Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania

Merck and Co., Skillman, New Jersey,

Meta Pharmaceutical Services LLC, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania

Microsoft Corp, United States

MORI, London

Morgen Walke Associates, Brooklyn, New York

Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

Neuronetics, Malvern, Philadelphia

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, Columbia, South Carolina

News Corporation, New York

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Novartis AG, Europe

Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical, Princeton, New Jersey

Organon Pharmacy, Roseland, New Jersey

Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Performance Systems International, Toronto, Ontario

Pepper, Hamilton and Sheetz, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pfizer, Australia

Pfizer, New York

Pfizer, Quaker Hill, Connecticut

Pfizer, United Kingdom

Phillips Lytle LLP, Buffalo, New York

Porter Novelli, New York

PricewaterhouseCoopers GTS UK, London

Publicis & Hal Riney, El Cerrito, California

Quintiles, Raleigh, North Carolina

Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society, Rockville, Maryland

Research Triangle Institute, Durham, North Carolina

R G C Jenkins & Co, London

R I S Christie, Toronto, Ontario

Rosen & Livingston, Brooklyn, New York

Ruder Finn, London

Sankyo Pharma, Parsippany, New Jersey

Sanofi Synthelab(s) PTE LTD, Singapore

Sanofi Techniques, Bourg-la-Reine

Schering-Plough Corporation, Plainfield, New Jersey

Scientific American, New York

Semyung University, Chungbuk, Kyongsang-bukto, Korea

Shire US, Wayne, Pennsylvania

Shock Hardy & Bacon, Overland Park, Kansas,

Smith Hanley, Indianapolis, Indiana

SmithKline Beecham, Ickenham, Slough, United Kingdom

SmithKline Beecham, North Weald, Havering, United Kingdom

St. John Medical Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

St Josephs Health System, Anaheim, California

State of CA, Dept. of Consumer Affairs (DCA), Sacramento, California

Steptoe & Johnson, London

Steptoe & Johnson, Washington, District of Columbia

Syntex USA, Livingston, New Jersey

Syntex USA, Switzerland

Syracuse Research Corporation, Syracuse, New York

Takeda Pharmaceuticals A, Chicago, Illinois,

Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Takeda UK Ltd, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, Texas

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Newington, Virginia

The McGinn Group, Fredericktown, Ohio

The Nielsen Company, New York

The Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, Ohio

The United States Centers For Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia

Trinity Mirror Group, London

TRW Space and Defense Sector, Torrance, California

Ulmer Berne, United States

University of California, Irvine, Irvine

University of Manchester, Manchester, England

University of Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire

University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

University of Westminster, London

USA TODAY, McLean, Virginia

U.S. Dept. of Commerce – ITA, Cheltenham, Maryland

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Washington, District of Columbia

U.S. Department of State, Arlington, Virginia

U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms, Arlington, Virginia

VJIL Consulting, Hyderabad, India

Waggener Edstrom, Portland, Oregon

Walgreens, Arlington Heights, Illinois

Warner-Lambert Company, Morris Plains, New Jersey

Wiley, Rein & Fielding, Washington, District of Columbia

WPP Group, New York

WPP Group U.S. Investments, Miami, Florida

Wyeth-Ayerst Research, Horsham, Pennsylvania

Wyeth-Ayerst Research, Waldwick, New Jersey

Young & Rubicam-Media Edge, San Francisco, California

What about you guys at Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide in New York? Who’s your client? What do they want to say?

Everything you ever wanted to know about… ‘patient groups’

Well, not EVERYTHING of course! This is the fourth post in a series that recaps (in one handy place) all I’ve written so far about a particular subject. The first three ‘everythings’ have been about Alastair Benbow, Ian Hudson and Serotonin.

But what about these patient groups I hear you ask…

I’ve written quite a lot on this subject, as I feel strongly about it. The collected posts run to four pages. You’ll learn about a complex cast of characters and organisations that include:

Jim Thomson & Amelia Mustapha, Rodney Elgie, Neil Bindemann, Dr Chris Manning, Innervate Ltd, The Centre for Mental Health, The Healthwell.org, The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, Depression Alliance, The Diabetes Monitoring Forum, Primhe, the antidepressant Cymbalta, Eli Lilly, Boehringer Ingleheim, National Depression Week, MediSense, a division of Abbott Laboratories, GAMIAN-Europe, the European Patients Forum, the International Alliance of Patient Organisations, The European Patient Information Channel, Packer Forbes, the Medicom Group, the (non-existent) All Party Parliamentary Group on Depression, the Partnership for Safe Medicines, The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the Alliance for Better Medicare, Citizens for Better Medicare, Action for Access, Breaking through Barriers – Depression: The Painful Truth, Astroturfing, European Depression Day and the European Depression Association.

Jim Thomson himself has told me “What you have “uncovered” is a tissue of conjecture and you are, clearly, a master at putting two next to two and seeing several dozen.” He says it’s all a “fifth-form conspiracy theory.” That might be the case – please follow this link to the four pages of collected posts and you can make your own mind up… I suggest you read from page four backwards to page one to get the full chronological flow!

I think there are a lot of questions to be answered and as you read about these people and organisations just remember Jim’s own words “…ask yourself one question… What does this person, or this organisation, have to gain from taking this position?”

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