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Third Annual PharmedOut Conference

PharmedOut, a Georgetown University Medical Center-based pharmaceutical marketing research project, hosts its third annual conference focusing on the misinformation and patient harm that can occur from pharmaceutical and medical device marketing.

WHO:

  • Rita Redberg M.D., M.Sc., Archives of Internal Medicine Editor-in-Chief; professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • Carl Elliott M.D. Ph.D., author, White Coat, Black Hat; professor, University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics
  • Kay Dickersin Ph.D., director, Center for Clinical Trials, Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health
  • Julie Taitsman M.D., J.D., chief medical officer, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Sharon Treat J.D., executive director, National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices
  • Joel Lexchin M.D., professor, York University
  • Donald Light Ph.D., professor, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

For more information and to register, visit the PharmedOut conference page.

WHEN: Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15, 2012, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET.

Thursday morning: Marketing of antipsychotic medications and other drugs
Thursday afternoon: Potential health risks of CT scans and other medical devices
Friday morning: Legislative and regulatory updates and solutions
Friday afternoon: Informing and protecting patients: The role of industry, media, and payers

WHERE: Lohrfink Auditorium in the Hariri Building, Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20057.

“Choosing Wisely” campaign launched

The ABIM Foundation has joined with nine medical specialty societies to develop evidence-based lists of tests and procedures for patients and physicians to discuss and question.  The goal of Choosing Wisely is to help physicians, patients and other stakeholders avoid unnecessary and in some cases harmful interventions and reduce the ever-expanding cost of health care.  Each participating specialty society will identify five tests or procedures whose use should be questioned.  The lists will be announced in April 2012.  The lists are modeled after the National Physicians Alliance project “Five Things You Can Do in Your Practice,” which was funded by the ABIM Foundation.  Consumer Reports will also be participating in the campaign.  One page factsheet here.  Press Release here.  Website here.

10 steps to better risk communication

Every day, patients are faced with difficult medical decisions.  These decisions invariably involve tradeoffs between risks and benefits.  However, these risks and benefits are often not communicated in a way the patient can understand, if they are communicated at all.  In a commentary in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Angela Fagerlin and colleagues highlight 10 methods that have been shown to improve understanding of risk and benefit information.  Their commentary uses examples relating to cancer screening, prevention, and treatment, but the principles should apply in other areas.  Below I summarize the key points; the authors state that the first three recommendations are based on strong evidence, while the rest are based on preliminary evidence.

  1. Communicate using “plain language.”  According to the authors, the average American reads at an 8th grade level, but health education materials are often written at a high school or college level, making the information hard for the average person to understand.
  2. Present statistical information using absolute risk rather than using relative risk or number needed to treat formats.  Changes in risk appear larger when presented using relative risk rather than absolute risk.  Absolute risk is easier for most people to understand than number needed to treat.
  3. Use pictographs when possible when presenting information graphical format.  The authors state that pictographs are easier to understand than other types of graphs, such as bar graphs and pie charts.
  4. Present data using frequencies rather than percentages.  “10% of patients get a bad rash” and “10 out of a hundred patients get a bad rash” mean the same thing, but percentages are more abstract and/or harder to understand for some people.
  5. When discussing treatment complications or side effects, differentiate between baseline risks and incremental risks.  Baseline risks are risks the person would face without any treatment; incremental risks are the risks associated with treatment.  For example, an initial pictograph could show baseline risk and a second pictograph could add a new color to represent the additional people who would experience the side effect as a result of the treatment.
  6. Be aware that the order of presenting risks and benefits can alter risk perceptions.  For example, if the benefits are presented first and the risks second, the risks may be perceived to be more worrisome and common.  This issue can’t be avoided altogether, but can be minimized by summarizing all the information at the end.
  7. When there are numerous risks and benefits, use a summary table.  Many treatments have numerous risks and benefits.  It is easier to compare the risks and benefits if they are presented in a summary table.
  8. Recognize that comparative risk information can bias decision making by altering how a person views his or her own risk.  If a person is given information indicating that their risk of developing a disease is higher than average, they may be more likely decide in favor of an intervention.  Decisions should be based on whether the benefits of the intervention outweigh its risks for an individual person, which can only be decided based on absolute risk.
  9. Consider that providing less information may be more effective.  Presenting more information can distract people from focusing on the key pieces of information that are needed for decision making.
  10. Make clear the time interval over which a risk occurs (e.g., 5-year risk, 10-year risk, 20-year risk).

I recommend reading the entire commentary.  If you don’t have access to the PDF, email me and I will send it to you.

Pharma and patients

Thanks to Gary Schwitzer for interviewing me on his blog. The topic is the intersection of pharma, patients and social media.

Conference to discuss pharma influence on medical knowledge

A conference,  “Pharma Knows Best? Managing Medical Knowledge,” will be held June 16-17, 2011 at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Topics to be covered at the conference include ghostwriting and medical journals; academic-industry-relationships; disease awareness sites and social media, pharmaceutical benefits managers, targeting physicians through medical science liaisons,  the role of the FDA in direct-to-consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals; and an analysis of the data from the Massachusetts gift-ban legislation.

Flyers for posting are available here.  Here’s the registration site:

Here is the agenda:

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Moderator – Dennis McIntyre MD, Georgetown University Hospital

8:15am-9:00am The History of Academic-Industry Research Relationships

Nicholas Rasmussen PhD MPH, University of New South Wales

9:00am-9:30am Managing Medical Knowledge in a Market for ‘Lemons’

Donald Light PhD MS, UMDNJ, Stanford University

10:00am-11:00am Industry Relationships with Medical Journals

Marcia Angell MD, Harvard Medical School

Virginia Barbour MD, PLoS Medicine

11:00am-11:30am Publication Planning and Ghostwriting

Alastair Matheson PhD MSc, Toronto, Canada
 
11:30am-12:00pm Q&A/Discussion with Morning Speakers

Moderator – Tony Scialli MD, Tetra Tech Sciences, G.W. University School of Medicine

1:30pm -2:00pm DTC Promotion: The Role of FDA

Amy Toscano PharmD CPA, FDA-DDMAC

2:00pm -2:30pm How to do Pharma-free CME

Peter Brodhead, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

3:00pm-5:00pm Panel: Medical Education

Steve Willis MD, East Carolina University

Arnold Relman MD, Harvard Medical School

Joel Lexchin MD MSc, York University, University of Toronto

Friday, June 17, 2011

8:00am – 8:45am Disease Awareness Sites and Social Media

Jeff Chester MSW, Center for Digital Democracy

8:45am – 9:15am Framingham Cardiac Risk Calculation – A Case Study in Commercialization of the Digital Landscape

Jesse Polansky MD MPH, Baltimore, MD

9:15am – 10:00am Adherence and Compliance Programs, E-Sampling, and Other Marketing Platforms

Adriane Fugh-Berman MD, Georgetown University Medical Center

Moderator – Sharon Radzyminski PhD JD RN, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies

10:30am – 11:00am Universal Influence: An Analysis of the Data from the Massachusetts Gift-Ban Legislation

Elissa Ladd PhD RN FNP-BC, MGH Institute of Health Professions
 
11:00am – 11:30pm Pharmaceutical Benefits Managers

Mark Helm MD MBA, Helm Benefit Design

11:30pm-12:00pm Targeting Physicians through Medical Science Liaisons

Douglas Melnick MD MPH, Los Angeles, CA

12:00pm – 12:30pm Q&A/Discussion – Morning speakers
Moderator – Shannon Brownlee MS, New America Health Policy Program

1:30pm – 2:00pm What’s happening at Academic Medical Centers?

Susan Chimonas PhD, Institute on Medicine as a Profession

2:00pm – 2:30pm Academic Scientists’ Relationships with Industry

Eric Campbell PhD, Harvard Medical School
 
2:30pm – 3:00pm Prevalence of Academic-Industry Research Partnerships

Adriane Fugh-Berman MD, Georgetown University Medical Center

3:30pm – 4:00pm Should Academic Medical Centers Perform Industry Research?

Carl Elliott MD PhD, University of Minnesota School of Medicine

4:00pm – 5:00pmPanel/Discussion: Should Academic Medical Centers be Pharma-Free? Can Academic Medical Centers be Pharma-Free?

Edmund Pellegrino MD, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

Marcia Angell, MD, Harvard Medical School

Heather Pierce JD MPH, AAMC

Curt Furberg MD PhD, Wake Forest University, North Carolina

The conference is sponsored by PharmedOut. Hope to see you there.

Editorial warns health organizations to avoid partnerships with Big Food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Highly processed, calorie-rich food is heavily marketed, highly profitable, and is one of the major causes of skyrocketing rates of child and adult obesity. The ubiquity of such foods in our society is said to create an “obesogenic environment.” So should the American Academy of Family Physicians accept a large grant from the Coca Cola Company to fund a consumer nutrition education website? Should the Heart and Stroke Foundation raise funds by selling pizzas from Boston Pizza? A hardhitting editorial by Yoni Freedhoff and Paul Hébert in the Canadian Medical Association Journal enumerates the benefits to food companies, and the risks to health organizations, in entering into such partnerships.

  1. For the food industry, partnerships with health organizations buy credibility and consumer loyalty.
  2. In many cases, partnerships with health organizations directly increase sales, as when Yum! Brands partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to sell buckets of fried chicken.
  3. Such partnerships may help leverage corporate lobbying efforts, as when Coca-Cola’s CEO used the company’s alliance with AAFP to help argue that soda taxes were unnecessary.
  4. Although the obesity epidemic is primarily fueled by the consumption of excess calories, these partnerships are used by the food industry to promote the misleading message that inactivity, rather than its products, is the main cause of obesity.

The authors conclude that health organizations, even when desperate for money, should avoid partnering with the food industry. The editorial and an appendix enumerating examples of partnerships between the food industry and health organizations are freely available, so I urge you to read them in their entirety.

See comments by my fellow bloggers Larry Husten, Gary Schwitzer and Howard Brody. Hat tip to Yoni Freedhoff.

Engage with grace blog rally

This year I’m joining in the Engage With Grace blog rally.  For three years running now, a number of bloggers have participated in a “blog rally” to promote Engage With Grace  – a movement aimed at making sure all of us understand, communicate, and have honored our end-of-life wishes. The rally coincides with a weekend when many of us in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving and are with close friends and family.

At the heart of Engage With Grace are five questions designed to get the conversation about end-of-life started.

 

To learn more please go to www.engagewithgrace.org

UK group will challenge “CAM” misinformation

I am alerted by Dr. Stephen Barrett’s Consumer Health Digest that a new UK-based group, The Nightingale Collaboration, has been launched by Simon Singh, Alan Henness, and Maria MacLachlan.  The group’s website states that “The Nightingale Collaboration will work to improve the protection of the public by ensuring claims made about complementary and alternative therapies are not misleading.”  The group will do this by:

  • challenging misleading claims made by practitioners on their websites, in advertisements and in their promotional and sales materials and subjecting these to scrutiny by the appropriate regulatory bodies;
  • striving to ensure that organizations representing complementary and alternative practitioners have robust codes of conduct for their members that protect the public and that these are rigorously enforced.

Sounds promising.  I’m going to be following this new initiative.  The group can be followed on Twitter @NightingaleC.

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