Sunday, May 17, 2015

BLOGSCAN - New England Journal of Medicine Scoffs at "Pharmascolds"

The venerable New England Journal of Medicine has now published an editorial,(1) and two commentaries(2-3), with one more promised, hailing physician industry "partnership," as per NEJM editor Jeffrey Drazen,(1) and deploring the "pharmascolds,"(3) who might question the glorious innovations that could arise when industry pays academic and practicing physicians.   

In a tweet, Dr Harlan Krumholz said he was "shocked" that a NEJM commentary would "give credence to the 'pharmascold' narrative.  

So far, the only more detailed questions about this new direction for the Journal came in a guest blog by Dr Susan Molchan in the HealthNewsReview blog, which responded only to the editorial(1) and the first commentary(2).  Dr Molchan wrote, 

Dr. Rosenbaum makes a nice try at reinterpreting financial conflicts between physicians and pharma, but however one twists and turns it, the dots still reconnect into dollar signs. She asks, “Have stories about industry greed so permeated our collective consciousness that we have forgotten that industry and physicians often share a mission — to fight disease?” Is Dr. Rosenbaum’s consciousness so clouded as to think that pharmaceutical companies don’t exist first and foremost to make money? That their primary responsibility is not to their shareholders?  It’s true that a means to this end is fighting disease, (including new “diseases,” tailored to one’s drug), but this should not be confused or conflated with the primary mission of (hopefully most) physicians.

I and many others suggest that the 'stories about industry greed' have not permeated enough, and that this problem has polluted much of medical research and medical practice, to the point where trust of the medical research enterprise has been eroded....

The airtime the NEJM is giving this issue, including publishing three - count them - strongly opinionated but hardly journalistic commentaries by their ostensible"national correspondent," suggest a major push against the "pharmascolds."  Again, note this this inflammatory and ad hominem term was used in a supposedly serious article on "Medicine and Society."  I strongly doubt we have heard the last of this.  Stay tuned. 

ADDENDUM (20 May, 2015) - See also comments by Mickey on the 1BoringOldMan blog.  

1.  Drazen JM.  Revisiting the commercial-academic interface.  N Eng J Med 2015; ; 372:1853-1854.  Link here.
2.  Rosenbaum L.  Reconnecting the dots - reinterpreting industry-physician relations.  N Eng J Med 2015;  372:1860-1864.  Link here
3.  Rosenbaum L. Understanding bias - the case for careful study.  N Engl J Med 2015;  372:1959-1963.  Link here

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