The Ethics Sage Talks Medical Conflicts of Interest

 The Ethics Sage Talks Medical Conflicts of Interest

Steven Mintz has a new post. It concerns conflicts of interests, in particular those involving academics sitting on the boards of drug companies. It’s a critical problem and he paints the issue in the bright colors of ethical perception that such an issue deserves.

I recommend this essay and suggest you visit the web site and read more of The Ethic Sage’s posting.

James Pilant

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

Academic Medical Center Leaders’ Position on the Board of Directors of a Pharmaceutical Company Can Create a Conflict of Interest – Ethics Sage

The danger of the practice of allowing leaders of academic medical centers to sit on the boards of drug companies is more than just the perception that independent judgment may be tainted by these relationships. Academic medical centers should serve the public good. How can they be expected to do so if a situation arises, for example, where the pharmaceutical product is of questionable value and the center is dependent on funding from the company? After all, the deans and directors who sit on boards are only human and just as board members of corporate entities might be biased toward the interest of the company and not the public interest, these academic leaders might overlook a problem with a drug that could threaten the public health.

via Academic Medical Center Leaders’ Position on the Board of Directors of a Pharmaceutical Company Can Create a Conflict of Interest – Ethics Sage.

From around the web.

From the web site,

A headline in The Denver Post was a reminder that health care providers, and the schools that teach or employ them, need to remain vigilant about conflict-of-interest issues.


The Post declared: “Docs limit drug-firm ties.” The ties refer to payments to doctors from pharmaceutical companies and medical-device manufacturers.”

The smaller headline tells another important part of the news: “Payments must pass ethics muster ….”

The story underscores changes that have occurred recently at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The school has had conflict-of-interest (COI) rules on the books for years.

But in 2011 those rules were both tightened and clarified—the “ethics muster.” The guiding principle is this: faculty cannot accept money to help a company market or promote a product.

The main target of the change was what are called “speakers bureaus.” Companies set these up to pay for speeches by physicians and others. CU now bans such participation.

“We’ve made explicit what always was our intention,” says Steven Lowenstein, MD, an emergency department doctor and associate dean who helped shape the new policy. “Our doctors can’t promote products. Drug companies can’t tell our doctors what to say or require them to use the companies’ slides or other instructional materials. And speaking requests will be reviewed by a new committee.

“The committee review is designed to separate truly educational talks and research-related talks, which are permitted, from talks that are about marketing and promotion.”

Lowenstein notes that research collaboration and research-related talks are allowed because they advance the science and practice of health care and benefit patients. For example, a doctor might have a contract with a pharmaceutical company to assist in developing, testing or assuring the safety of a new drug or device.

The issue of payments to physicians has gained prominence because of reporting by the organization ProPublica. In October 2010, they published a report called “Dollars for Docs,” based on pharmaceutical company payment disclosures that recently had become available.

Koch Foundation Hires and Fires Economists at Public University (via Wake-up Call)

It is questionable morally to use money and influence to diminish or destroy the rights of Americans. It is questionable morality to subvert or buy the media to prevent unfavorable stories or to spread lies and misinformation. And it is questionable morality to buy influence at American universities so that your perverted economic doctrines can become mainstream, to use public institutions as private breeding grounds for followers, to pollute the social science with the continuous contributions of bought academics, not searching for the truth, but in opposition to it.

Shall large Christian denominations dispose of evolutionary biology using the same methods? Shall opponents of gay marriage dispose of social scientists using the same methods? Shall we give up the field of criminology, after high dollar contributors insist that crime is produced by demonic possession?

Think of the possibilities! These independent researchers, these tenured beasts, all brought to heel. Is global warming a problem? Buy enough academics and it disappears. Some damn nosy professor says dumping radioactive material can damage our genetic heritage, that can be fixed. We can buy as many professors as we want. History can become what we want. The very definition of reality can be changed, literature and painting cleansed of subversive influences.

Are public universities in need of money? Let them get money the old-fashioned way. Haven’t people justified their immoral actions by saying they did it because it was part of the job and they had to feed their families? Haven’t people said they had to do it, it was part of the job? Let’s put academics in that same boat. They shall have their jobs only if they give the proper respect to the contributors, only if their search for truth is predetermined, I promise you that every university in this nation will be rolling in money the moment they realize just like Florida State University that selling the “right” kind of education is more profitable than the pursuit of knowledge. Educating the young has never been very profitable.

We can double, triple administrative salaries. We can build new buildings and a first class physical plant. There will be stadiums and first class football teams at the smallest of institutions. No more begging to the state legislatures, the money will never stop. Donors will compete against each other for professors. If one gets five, then the other must have six.

We can price them. The more influential the professor, the more money they will be worth. It’s easy to measure, who’s on television more often. Who testifies before Congress the most. Whether or not they teach or get published is insignificant. Who wants to buy that?

We have sold so much in this country. Let’s follow free market economics to their logical conclusion.

The brave new world of green is out there waiting for us. Let us walk forward bravely, open palm extended, to sell our last possession, our integrity.

James Pilant

Koch Foundation Hires and Fires Economists at Public University by Rebekah Wilce on May 12, 2011     PR Watch     According to news reports, the Charles G. Koch Foundation has bought “the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.” Kris Hundley of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the elder Koch brother’s foundation “pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a … Read More

via Wake-up Call

Ethics Dunce: Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gesslar (via Ethics Alarms)

I didn’t believe that this could even happen. Ethics Alarms has the story.

Is “I need the money.” an excuse for these kind of actions?

James Pilant

Please go to Ethics Alarms and read the whole post.

Less than a week after taking office, attorney Scott Gessler, Colorado’s newly elected  Secretary of State, announced that he plans to keep working part-time as an attorney for his law firm, the Hackstaff Law Group. In an interview with the Denver Business Journal, Gessler acknowledged that his plan to moonlight as a contract attorney raised ethical issues, but he needed the money. Well that’s certainly an encouraging ethics orientation! “Yes, I … Read More

via Ethics Alarms