Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Transparency and the Advertising $$$ Free-Fall

The transparency trend is firmly in place now, and its impact is beginning to be felt. One significant tremor: Industry spending on advertising revenue in medical journals. The WSJ Blog reported recently that those dollars plummeted to $626 million last year, from $865 million in 2005.

To refresh your memories: A March article in Medical Marketing and Media said only one journal, NEJM, had an increase in pages – a whopping .9%, for 2009. JAMA was down 12.8%.

The WSJ article, which focused its piece on industry revenues lost by the American Psychiatric Association, ($7.5 million over the past year), said that industry is cutting back from advertising in the APA’s journals, “in part because the industry faces its own pressures to avoid potential conflicts of interest.” 

The impact of this lost revenue and a bad economy are impacting everyone.  But what do less articles published, less research presented at conferences, less private investment in health really mean?

Did anyone think of the unintended consequences this push for transparency would bring?

Up until this point, physicians and KOLs have been fairly quiet about the COI turmoil. But recently, some medical association heavy hitters took a stand.

That's what this issue has lacked all along: A real conversation between physicians who think there is a conflict of interest in earning a living from industry, and those who don't. Maybe they can make sense of all this, and establish workable rules that make real sense.

We'd like to believe the pendulum is swinging the other way and industry's model of interacting with healthcare professionals will continue to change.  We hope for the overall improvement in healthcare, but we also know we are a long way from really knowing.  In the meantime, the economy is affecting all of us.  Make sure your CV/Resume is up to date. 

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