Friday, November 5, 2010

Pharma, COI, and Principled Interactions

One thing’s for sure: Pharma members are going to need scorecards to keep track of what kind of industry-thought leader interaction each academic institution allows. For example, the University of Iowa does not permit the distribution of drug samples, nor can its faculty use ghostwriters. They can’t appear on speaker bureaus, either.

In Boston, physicians who work for Partners Healthcare – Brigham and Women’s Boston, Massachusetts General -- face similarly strict rules. If you recall, one Brigham faculty member resigned in protest over the fact that he could no longer earn money, speaking on behalf of pharma. But its rules on CME aren’t as stringent as those at Stanford University, or at Memorial Sloan Kettering, according to this same Globe article.

But at Yale, leadership there has adopted a more nuanced approach to dealing with perceived conflict of interest issues and interaction with industry.

“We rejected the idea that all interactions [with industry] are wrong and the notion that any relationship is a conflict of interest,” Ronald Vender, MD, chief medical officer for the Yale Medical Group and associate dean for clinical affairs for the Yale School of Medicine told Medical Marketing and Media. “[I]t's not that we are promoting interactions. But if one is going to have [them], we are promoting the concept of ‘principled interactions.'”
Well, what do you know -- a realistic approach. At Yale, these principled interactions require that faculty pay attention to the rules. Yale has established an “enforcement mechanism,” MM and M says.

Yale faculty must follow the rules regarding speakers’ bureaus, gifts, meals, interactions with sales reps, and so on. The one COI area that Yale put its foot down about is ghostwriting – it’s not allowed. Good for the Bulldogs. As we’ve said in this blog before, ghostwriting in this business is wrong. If a researcher needs an editor – and all writers need editors -- give that person credit at the end of the article.

About those scorecards. With academic institutions everywhere adopting new COI rules, the wise pharma member will want to know which institution requires what before making any contact with any institution. But who has time to get all that information? Maybe BioPharma Advisors can help you.

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