Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wanted: Drug Pimp/Key Opinion Leader

Daniel Carlat from the Carlat Psychiatry Blog received an invitation to the key opinion leader club from the good people at Schering-Plough. The company wanted him to read their slides to other physicians in order to promote their brand spanikn' new antipsychotic/mood stabilizer Saphris (asenapine). Because, of course, if he reads the slides, they are more credible than if read by one of those sleazy drug reps; it's so much more classy and believable if an "independent" psychiatrist reads the company's marketing copy.

Carlat posted the documents used in the attempt to recruit him (cover letter, speaker bureau arrangement, pimp, er, speaker fees) Everyone should read them. Speakers are only allowed to rake in $170,000 of dirty money through this program. I suppose anything more would make them look like shameless drug pimps. But if you were to take, say, $50k for your "educational" services, that would be totally acceptable, right? I hereby nominate anyone who accepts Schering-Plough's generous offer for the much coveted Golden Goblet Award.

What's the deal with this Saphris drug, anyway? One neuropsychologist reviewed the data and found that it promises to be yet another also-ran atypical antipsychotic, at best. Some have also raised questions of whether the drug deserved FDA approval at all. Get ready for some ghostwritten articles that present the evidence surrounding Saphris in a ridiculously biased manner, for key opinion leaders to travel to conferences extolling its virtues, and for the rest of the usual marketing tricks.


Radagast said...

Am I the only one to think that this is quite weird? I mean, Carlat isn't exactly known for being pharma-tame - you've got to admire Schering-Plough's barefaced cheek in asking the guy, I think!

What I'd like to know is when it will become a criminal offence to wilfully engage in the dissemination of false information? At what point is it going to become unacceptable to have inefficacious, dangerous drugs, which one presents as excellent through the corruption of KOLs and then makes huge profits from? When it becomes simplicity itself to demonstrate that the deceit was intentional? I wonder.

Or perhaps when pharma stops paying the lawmakers, I suppose! Not that I'm suggesting that politicians are on the take, of course - that was just a throwaway quip, you understand!?


Neuroskeptic said...

They tried to recruit Carlat as a KOL? Don't these people have the internet?

Florida said...

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Unfortunately these new anti-anxiety and depression medications do not come without side effects and only a small percentage of its users reports that these medications do indeed balance their moods to the point where they can say they truly feel comfortable over longer periods of time.