Like Talking to a Wall: Why Pharma Needs to Speak Up

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From Mark McCoy

There is a high level of dissatisfaction with our healthcare system these days, which makes pharma companies vulnerable to becoming a target for blame. Its hard to believe that even though pharma companies discover and develop the drugs that advance medical treatment, the industry is so vilified that only cigarette makers and big oil are more distrusted by the public.

When Pharma Support Leads to Failing Grades

In the February 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, “Pharmaceutical Industry Support and Residency Education, anarticle based on the results of an e-mail survey implied that acceptance of pharmaceutical industry support by residency programs appeared to be associated with a lower rate of program graduates passing the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).

Despite the Judas-like status affixed to medical residents who accept “tainted money, it is revealed on the last page of the report that no causal relationship was found between accepting pharma company support and the ABIM test pass rate. But the damage has been done, and the issue becomes even more scandalous in the retelling, as the study results become distorted and the industry becomes further demonized. What was once a dialogue about conflict of interest has suddenly mutated into pharma companies producing bad doctors.

Time to Call Foul

Pharma companies and their agencies almost always keep silent when stories like “Pharmaceutical Industry Support and Residency Education appear in the press and are widely publicized on the Internet. The result of this silence is increasing and frequently unfounded criticism of the industry with no statement representing the opposing point of view. This one-sided argument has left the drug industry with a poor image among the American public, an image that shows no signs of improving.Perhaps it’s time for the drug industry and its agencies to speak up and defend itself from fabricated attacks delivered by adversaries of the industry.

What do you think the industry needs to do to improve it’s battered reputation?

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