Inside this Issue - January 31, 2012
Message from NPA President
I am proud to introduce this first issue of the NPA Quarterly, a new digital publication intended to highlight work across our core issue areas. Of special interest in this issue is the launch of an exciting new project: the Partnership to Advance Conflict-free Medical Education (PACME). This grant-funded educational initiative will deepen the NPA’s efforts to restore integrity and trust in the medical profession by addressing the scope and impact of pharmaceutical marketing on medical research, education, and clinical decision-making. You’ll find a full project description below, along with an interview of Ann Woloson, the NPA’s new Director of Education, who will lead this important work.
I hope you enjoy this edition of the NPA Quarterly and that you find many opportunities to become involved in our work. In this publication, we will mark upcoming events and showcase the good work of our members. Please send your thoughts and suggestions for future issues to firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage your input!
Valerie Arkoosh, MD, MPH
NPA Expands Efforts to Promote Conflict-Free Medical Education
Committed to Advancing Integrity in Medicine, Free from Financial Conflicts of Interest
The National Physicians Alliance has received funding through the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program to enhance the impact of our Unbranded Doctor Network through the Partnership to Advance Conflict-free Medical Education (PACME). This three-year initiative will identify and promote best practices aimed at reducing conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry. As part of this project, the NPA will hold a series of National Grand Rounds events —- expert panel presentations hosted at diverse sites around the country. These events will be webcast and archived online to reach a national audience of physicians, medical students, and others interested in reducing conflicts of interest in medicine.
A joint project of the National Physicians Alliance, the American Medical Student Association Foundation, Community Catalyst, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, PACME will build upon the previous work of partner organizations to create both external and internal pressure for medical schools and academic medical centers (AMCs) to adopt strong new conflict-of-interest policies. PACME aims to result in 75% of U.S. medical schools having strong conflict-of-interest standards (up from a current 30%) and to develop physician leadership to sustain and promote this change. Project partners will:
- expand and promote the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard;
- provide medical schools and AMCs with technical assistance and tools to guide the development of new institutional policies; and help institutional leaders effectively evaluate the success and impact of their policies;
- create a national network of physicians and physicians-in-training who will provide leadership within the profession in support of conflict-free medical education; and
- develop and disseminate new and existing resources, standards, curricula, and best practices nationwide to promote reform efforts and tools.
The NPA will expand efforts to restore integrity and trust in the medical profession through its Unbranded Doctor Network by:
- hosting bimonthly Conflict-Free Leadership Calls with advocacy and policy experts to provide technical assistance and leadership development to physicians and residents;
- hosting a series of CME accredited National Grand Rounds presentations at academic medical centers to educate physicians and residents about the nature and influence of pharmaceutical industry relationships with the medical community; and
- promoting best practices and reform efforts associated with PACME through local presentations and on-line communications, including journal publications, blogs, opinion pieces, etc.
Funding to produce materials and other deliverables through this initiative is made possible by a grant from the State Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program which is funded by the multi-state settlement of consumer fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin.
Learn more about this initiative and how you can become involved in project activities.
Join the NPA network of Unbranded Doctors
Contact: Ann Woloson, NPA Director of Education, email@example.com
An Interview with Ann Woloson, NPA’s new Director of Education
Ann Woloson, NPA Director of Education
NPA’s Executive Director Dr. Jean Silver-Isenstadt spoke with Ann Woloson about her new role as the organization’s Director of Education....
Jean: What drew you to join NPA’s efforts around pharmaceutical marketing?
Ann: I’ve worked throughout my career to improve access to quality medical care, including access to safe, affordable prescription drugs. For several years, I’ve followed and admired NPA’s Unbranded Doctor Campaign to reduce the influence of pharmaceutical marketing in physician offices.
Jean: Can you say more about how your previous work experience relates to this new project to advance conflict-free medical education?
Ann: For the past several years I’ve worked to promote evidenced-based prescribing in the effort to improve health quality in the US and rein in health care costs. I’ve worked with prescribers, consumers, and with payers to promote non-biased sources of information, including academic detailing (prescriber education) programs and Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs. An important goal has been to counter the drug industry’s huge marketing campaigns directed at physicians and consumers—campaigns that promote more expensive products.
Jean: Remind us how much of the industry’s marketing is directed toward prescribers versus consumers?
Ann: Industry spends somewhere between $29 - $57 billion annually on marketing to prescribers and consumers. Most of the industry’s marketing is directed toward physicians and other prescribers by sending sales representatives to their offices and through the distribution of samples of newer, more expensive drugs. It’s difficult to say exactly how much is spent on prescribers, given the industry’s change in tactics in recent years to include gifts, continuing education opportunities, speaking honorariums, etc. as part of their marketing strategy. There’s no question, however, that industry spends billions to direct its marketing toward prescribers. Shedding light on how those marketing dollars influence prescribing will be key to shifting attitudes and restoring integrity and most important, improving access and health care quality in the US.
Jean: How do you see this new project helping to limit industry influence?
Ann: The partnership provides a number of opportunities for partners to work together to reduce conflicts of interest created by industry. The NPA will expand its Unbranded Doctor Network, geared toward helping physicians limit their marketing relationships with the industry, and will provide a number of educational activities to heighten awareness of conflict and highlight steps being taken at academic medical centers and private practices to reduce conflicts of interest. These efforts will include a series of National Grand Rounds events across the country.
As another example, the American Medical Student Association, one of the project partners, has developed the PharmFree Scorecard of Conflict of Interest Policies at Academic Medical Centers, which rates institutions according to their adoption and use of policies that limit industry influence. This is a great tool which will be shared and highlighted as part of NPA’s National Grand Rounds. The goal is to help medical students and others learn more about the tool and build leadership within AMCs to adopt good policies in the future.
NPA will provide additional educational opportunities to its members by expanding its reading and research resources through quarterly newsletters and by expanding its review of literature on its website. We will also host bimonthly leadership conference calls to support reform efforts at the local level.
Jean: How can NPA members learn more about the project and become involved?
Ann: Folks should definitely visit NPA’s website for more information and also feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Ann and other staff who will provide leadership on this project.
NPA Members in Action
Shining a Needed Light on PhRMA/Physician Interactions
Mark Ryan, MD, family physician, Richmond, VA
NPA Board of Directors Member
(originally posted on the NPA Blog, Jan. 22, 2012)
Recently, National Public Radio’s program “On the Media” discussed the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. This legislation (PDF; a useful overview is available here–also a PDF) was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care at and requires that pharmaceutical companies (PhRMA) disclose how much they pay physicians in compensation for being consultants, on speaker’s bureaus, etc. The rules that were released in December 2011 go even further than many expected: PhRMA and medical device makers will need to disclose how much they pay physicians for speaking at formal CME events. Read More
Take Action with NPA:
Submit Your Comments on the Physician Payment Sunshine Act Draft Regulations
As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing new regulations requiring drug companies and manufactures of medical devices to disclose payments made to doctors for speaking, research, travel, entertainment and consulting. The NPA strongly supports the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (PPSA) provisions of the new health law and will be submitting comments. Consider this disturbing data:
- According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 94% of physicians accept gifts, payments, reimbursements or other financial incentives from the pharmaceutical industry.
- Numerous studies have demonstrated that such gifts and payments directly influence medical decision-making.
- It has become difficult for physicians to find and distinguish legitimate, evidence-based sources of medical information from biased, industry-influenced sources.
- The very distinction between marketing and education has been blurred.
Before February 14th, please provide the NPA with your comments on the PPSA draft regulations via this link as we work to strengthen disclosure and increase transparency around industry payments to physicians.
To access the draft regulations, include a downloadable pdf, click here.
NPA’s Bimonthly Conflict-free Leadership Call
February 22, 2012 - 9 PM EST
Topic: American Medical Student Association’s PharmFree Scorecard
This first of a series of educational conference calls hosted by NPA provides an opportunity to further develop physician and resident leaders who will work in their communities to promote best practices and NPA educational activities under the Partnership to Advance Conflict-Free Medical Education.
Learn more about PACME partners, project goals and activities and opportunities to become involved. Lee Shapley, ScoreCard Director for the American Medical Student Association, will present on AMSA’s PharmFree Scorecard which grades Academic Medical Centers based on their adoption of effective policies limiting the influence of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. (AMSA PharmFree Scorecard background information)
For more information, please contact Ann Woloson, NPA Director of Education, email@example.com
An MS Patient Loses Trust When She Finds Out Her Doctor is Paid by Drug Companies. Maran Wolston, Health Affairs, 30, No 12(2011): 2449-2452, doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0094
Featured Keynote Address at NPA 2011 Annual Meeting in Washington DC
Marcia Angell, MD, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School, Department of Social Medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine
The NPA 6th Annual Meeting was held in Washington, DC in October 2011 and attended by over 100 members, policymakers and advocates interested in NPA’s work. The conference, Leading the Way to Health in Our Communities, included a variety of workshops and speakers, including a keynote address by Marcia Angell, MD, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School, Department of Social Medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Angell talked about her experience at NEJM and her reasons for leaving the Journal related to concerns she has about corporate influence on medical research.
Visit NPA's reading room to view Dr. Angell's book, The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive US and What to Do About It (2004, New York: Random House)
SAVE The Date! November 10-11, 2012 in Washington DC!
Mark Your Calendars for the 7th NPA Annual Conference
Leading the Way: The Next Chapter in America’s Health
Learn More about Other NPA Activities
Building Trust & Integrity in Medicine
PACME is a joint project of the National Physicians Alliance, the American Medical Student Association Foundation, Community Catalyst, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The project aims to create both external and internal pressure for medical schools and academic medical centers to adopt and enforce strong conflict-of-interest policies.
For more information please contact Ann Woloson, NPA Director of Education
This partnership and related materials were made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program which is funded by the multi-state settlement of consumer fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin.
Jan 31, 2012