interviewed Adriane Fugh-Berman on her pharma activism after this year's Pharmed Out conference. Here's an excerpt.
Q. What’s your biggest win?
A. Fewer doctors seeing drug representatives, and tighter policies at academic medical centers. My initial idea with PharmedOut was that we would first write things in the medical literature and then for consumers. And I never had to get to that second part because there was so much interest in what we wrote for the medical literature.
Q. Biggest disappointment?
A. The fact that we haven’t been able to get external funding, despite the fact that we’ve tried. No one could possibly do more with less, but I could do more with more.
Q. What do you expect in PharmedOut’s next decade?
A. I’m hoping that 10 years from now there will be no pharmaceutical company or medical-device manufacturer or biotech manufacturer funding any medical education. CME is not regulated by the FDA, because they say it’s education. And we’re saying, No, it’s promotion — it is all promotion, every bit of it. It may be hard to see.
There have been surveys of doctors on whether they see industry bias in teaching modules, and 95 percent of them say no. But they’re not trained to detect bias. I have trained students to detect marketing in industry-funded modules. We’re the only group doing this. It’s the kind of thing that’s easy for writers and English majors and people in the humanities. Doctors and scientists can’t tell the difference between persuasive writing and — I don’t know — words on a page.