Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Golden Goblet: Oncology Edition

Not long ago, I invented the sarcastic Golden Goblet Award as an honor for researchers whose conflicts of interest were of truly epic proportions. Peter Rost has the story of an "independent academic" (Dr. Stephen Freedland) at Duke University who, according to an internal AstraZeneca document, gave 68 marketing speeches for AZ's cancer drug, Casodex in 2006. 68 speeches in one year. Rost estimates that he got $2,000 - $3,000 for each speech. I think the number could have been as low as $1,000 in some cases. But at bare bones (and this is unlikely) minimum, it seems likely he pulled in at least $70k, and a more reasonable estimate is well past $150k, with a high estimate of over $200k. Apparently Duke University Medical Center pays pretty poorly if this much moonlighting as a salesman is required to make ends meet.

I was less than shocked to also discover that Dr. Freedland is a member of an advisory board for AZ. I'm not an expert in cancer by any means and I don't know much about Freedland's research and/or clinical practice. He may be the world's best oncologist -- I don't know.

But... When an "independent academic" lends his academic stamp of approval via speeches for one drug 68 times in one year, that's worthy of a nomination for a Golden Goblet -- though still relatively early in his career, he's got "key opinion leader" written all over him!

No comments: