Saturday, May 14, 2005

Big Pharma Handouts to Psychs

Since 2003 Big Pharma has accounted for more than half of the total funding for all courses run by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education in the US.

In 2003 Big Pharma gave $944 million to medical teaching organisations. Can you believe that? Almost a billion dollars!

The practice is causing great concern amongst the more ethically minded in the medical profession.

''I am skeptical that a company would give a lot of money just to be able to say 'We were nice to the Mass. General Hospital,' " said Dr. Arnold Relman, a Harvard Medical School professor, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and long-time critic of drug company involvement in education. ''It's much more likely that despite the rules and regulations they hope they will influence the programs and improve their sales."

According to The Boston Globe, Many of the psychiatrists who teach the courses are consultants for, or receive research funding from, pharmaceutical companies.

A spokesman for Cephalon, a small pharmaceutical company based in Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Department of psychiatry’s biggest funder, said it is developing products for anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so funding psychiatry courses fits into its overall strategy. ''We fully expect to be marketing drugs in the psychiatric market, so it helps having our name out there, and aligning ourselves with Mass. General is a positive,"

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