CME in the News Week of August 31st, 2009

September 4, 2009 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

Over and over the majority of the news items appearing in blogs, web news outlets, newspapers, etc. focus on questionable practices of pharma involvement in CME. This week Pfizer and Forest Laboratories get the attention. ACCME got a little attention this week. So you want to see what the public is hearing about what we spend our time doing? Lots of fodder for the anti-pharma involvement in CME proponents.

The ACCME Data Dumps
By bmartin on August 31, 2009 4:14 PM

Last Thursday the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)—the organization that accredits other organizations to provide certified CME in the United States—released detailed data on 729 providers. In an e-mailed press release, the ACCME’s Chief Executive, Murray Kopelow, stated that these data were being made public in an effort to “increase the system’s transparency and accountability.”

Among the accredited providers, 124 (17%) received the designation of “Accreditation with Commendation” from the ACCME; 16 received commendation under the more stringent 2006 criteria, which is intended to foster providers’ participation in “institutional or system-wide initiatives” to improve the quality of healthcare (whatever that entails exactly).

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Documents Show Lexapro Promoted By Tens Of Millions In Doctor

Lunches, Lectures
“Forest’s 2004 plan for marketing Lexapro offers detailed information about how the company planned to direct this money to doctors.

“Under ‘Rep Promotional Programs,’ the document said the company planned to spend $34.7 million to pay 2,000 psychiatrists and primary care doctors to deliver 15,000 marketing lectures to their peers over the course of one year.

“An entire section of the marketing plan, titled ‘Continuing Medical Education,’ outlines how the company intended to use educational seminars for doctors to teach them about Lexapro. The Senate’s Special Committee on Aging held a hearing in July on whether industry funding of medical education classes leads to tainted talks.”

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Forest’s Promotional Objective: Use CME to Sell Lexapro
The Carlat Psychiatry Blog
September1 2009

“We have known for some time that the actual purpose of industry-sponsored CME (continuing medical education) is to increase prescriptions of the supporter’s product. But few will admit it. The ACCME says that it accredits only CME that is unbiased and objective, even though half of it is paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Leading medical societies appear to be willing to fight to maintain their God-given right to industry funding of CME until the world ends.”

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Document Details Plan to Promote Costly Drug
By GARDINER HARRIS
New York Times.
Published: September 1, 2009

Here is a paragraph in the article you should take note of:

“An entire section of the marketing plan, titled “Continuing Medical Education,” outlines how the company intended to use educational seminars for doctors to teach them about Lexapro. The Senate’s Special Committee on Aging held a hearing in July on whether industry funding of medical education classes leads to tainted talks.”

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Mother of God! Forest Labs Had Marketing Plan for Lexapro!
By bmartin on September 2, 2009 12:49 PM

“And gambling occurs in casinos. Yesterday Gardinar Harris of the NYT revealed that Forest Laboratories, the maker of the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro), had a 2004 marketing plan for the drug. Harris’s article,* which is made possible by government access to what was a confidential document from Forest, seems intended to generate a considerable amount of righteous indignation. But a review of the abridged plan, which is made available here, reveals nothing more than the usual strategies and tactics by pharma to achieve or maintain a drug’s market share—objectives that are, in fact, a company’s responsibility to its shareholders. Frankly if Forest’s Lexapro marketing team, circa 2003, is to be publicly chided, it should be for lack of originality.”

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Drug company paid MN doctors $754,127: Forest Laboratories paid 62 Minnesota doctors in 2008, a nonprofit group reports.
By JANET MOORE, Star Tribune
Last update: September 3, 2009 – 12:57 AM

“Minnesota doctors were paid thousands of dollars in speaker fees and other payments last year by a pharmaceutical company now implicated in a congressional investigation for its aggressive promotion of a popular antidepression drug, according to documents filed with the state and analyzed by a nonprofit group

“Forest Laboratories Inc. paid 62 Minnesota doctors at least $1,000 each in speakers’ fees, with 28 physicians receiving payments of more than $10,000, according to The Pew Prescription Project. All told, Forest paid Minnesota practitioners more than $750,000 in 2008.”

To check out drug company payments to doctors, go here.

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Pfizer Reaches Record Settlement with Feds; Yes, That Is $2.3 Billion with a ‘B’
By Douglas B. Farquhar –
September 2, 2009
FDA Law Blog
Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C.

“…the marketing acts that allegedly resulted in the false claims for federal reimbursement included the following:
• The marketing team positioned Bextra for uses other than the approved uses, created and tested sales materials promoting those uses.
• The sales force marketed Bextra for unapproved uses, including drafting and distributing physician standing orders and hospital pain “pathways” that called for unapproved uses of Bextra.
• Pfizer and Pharmacia used “so-called” Advisory Boards, consultant meetings, and other forms of remuneration to promote Bextra for unapproved uses (Advisory Boards have been a particularly frequent target for federal government investigations).
• The sales force created sham requests from physicians for off-label information (the requests are supposed to originate from physicians without prompting from sales representatives).
• Distribution of drug samples for unapproved uses.
• Sponsoring supposedly independent CME (continuing medical education programs) that were not independent.
• Initiating, funding, and occasionally drafting articles for medical publications about unapproved uses of Bextra.”

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Pfizer to Pay $2.3 Billion, Undergo Annual Reviews for Off-Label Promotion
FDA News, Volume 6, Number 173, Friday September 4th 2009

Pfizer has agreed to a $2.3 billion settlement — the largest healthcare fraud settlement in Justice Department history — to resolve criminal and civil cases arising from the illegal promotion of several of its drugs. As a result of the investigation, the drugmaker is entering into a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the HHS Office of Inspector General that requires annual reviews of the company’s compliance program. Pharmacia & Upjohn, a Pfizer subsidiary, will plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra (valdecoxib) with the intent to defraud or mislead and will pay $105 million in fines, Justice said in a press briefing Wednesday.

Big Pharma Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs: Where is the Line?
FindLaw’s Common Law

“…….. record-breaking fines against Pfizer offer an opportunity to examine recently surfaced information regarding marketing tactics employed in the pharmaceutical industry. Though the line is not always clear, the Pfizer settlement agreement shows that federal prosecutors believe many widely used marketing tactics to be illegal.”

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Entry filed under: ACCME, CME, CME Issues, Continuing Medical Education, Continung Professional Development, Pharma Funding, Physician Continuing Education, Physician Education.

CME on the Web: Week of August 20th CME In the News September 2009

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