2016 News

PharmedOut In the News - 2016

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

  • Our paper, "Treatment of Men with 'Low Testosterone': A Systematic Review" was covered by Bloomberg, DrugWatch, and the Daily Hornet.
  • October 16: Dr. Fugh-Berman was quoted in "The drug industry’s answer to opioid addiction: More pills" in the Washington Post. "The best way to treat opioid-induced constipation," she said, "is to prevent it in the first place by not overusing opioids."
  • October 10: The launch of our new DCRx modules on opioids was covered in the GW Hatchet, a student newspaper. Dr. Susan Wood, the director of DCRx, said, "This is not an easy problem to solve. We hope that this will add to what is already out there and contribute to a better understanding [of opioid epidemic]."
  • October 3: PharmedOut intern Sara Bellakbira's photos of drug rep promotional items, including PharmedOut artworks by Barbara Leckie (Medically Enhanced Chest) and former intern Terra Blissett ("Pen Hospital"), were featured in "The provider gift ban: The day the tchotchkes died." Dr. Fugh-Berman commented on the gift ban, saying "[m]any physicians thought the ban was silly, but that's because they were — and are — unaware of the effect of small gifts on creating a sense of obligation. There was also a certain amount of consternation among some docs, who couldn't figure out how to procure a pen that had not been provided by a pharmaceutical company."
  • October 1: Salespeople in the Surgical Suite, our article on surgeons and medical device reps, was covered in AHC Media. “We believe that there is an inherent conflict of interest, and therefore an ethical problem, in having the surgical sales representatives present in advisory capacities in the OR,” said Bonnie B. O'Connor, PhD.

September 2016

August 2016

  • August 25: Dr. Fugh-Berman was quoted in an article on Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) published in Cancer Therapy Advisor. PAPs are used by pharmaceutical companies to deflect criticism of high drug prices, while maintaining profits for their company. “By paying the co-pays, pharmaceutical companies save patients a little money while costing insurers a lot of money. They are getting around insurers' efforts to save money,” said Fugh-Berman.
  • August 12: Our article on Salespeople in the Surgical Suite was covered in Modern Healthcare by Adam Rubenfire, who also examines alternatives to medical device salespeople, including in-house device technicians.
  • August 11: Our article Direct-to-Consumer Marketing in Hemophilia inspired a follow-up article by Peter Korn from the Portland Tribune, who interviewed Matthew Tache, a patient with hemophilia who talks about relationships between industry and patients. “The use of bribes that don’t look like bribes has been a hallmark of marketing to physicians for many years. It's not widely known that these same tactics are used to target patients,” Fugh-Berman says.

July 2016

  • July 6: In July, Pfizer agreed to a written code of conduct with the City of Chicago for marketing opioids. Pfizer promised not to promote opioids off-label and to disclose in its promotional materials that opioids have a risk of addiction – practices that all opioid manufacturers should already be doing. Dr. Fugh-Berman believes that Pfizer has other motivations behind this PR move. “It’s in Pfizer’s interest to highlight the addictive properties of opioids because they have a competing product under development,” she told the Boston Globe. “When a company comes out slamming a particular class of drugs, it’s generally because they have a competitor in the wings. Think of this as prelaunch marketing, which can start long before the launch.” The story was also covered in the Washington Post,Chicago Tribune, and CBS News.

June 2016

May 2016

  • May 19: How Big Pharma Uses Charity Programs to Cover for Drug Price Hikes, is a fascinating, widely distributed investigative report by Ben Elgin and Robert Langreth of Bloomberg News on how pharma funds co-pay charities in order to force Medicare to pay for expensive drugs. Dr. Fugh-Berman said that the donations are designed to “deflect criticism of high drug prices. Meanwhile, they’re bankrupting the health-care system.”
  • May 14: Dr. Fugh-Berman presented a seminar on Addyi (flibanserin) and debated ob-gyn Holly Thacker on the “Role of Flibanserin in the Treatment of HSDD in Women” at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology meeting on May 14. Family Practice News interviewed Dr. Fugh-Berman and Dr. Thacker after the debate and got their opposing views on the topic.

April 2016

March 2016

  • March 3: Dr. Fugh-Berman was quoted in a Portland Tribune article about oncologist Vinay Prasad. Prasad is the co-author of "Ending Medical Reversal: Improving Outcomes, Saving Lives," and many articles, including an article in JAMA Internal Medicine showing that a third of speakers purportedly representing cancer patients at industry conferences were receiving money from pharmaceutical companies.
  • March 2: The American Council on Science and Health quoted Dr. Fugh-Berman in an article poking fun at Valeant (now the lucky owner of Addyi): "This company already has a history of unethical marketing," she said. "If [Addyi is] approved, I think this drug will be widely prescribed, and we would see an epidemic of adverse effects."

February 2016

  • In a JAMA study of 5,900 women, researchers found that flibanserin/Addyi/"female Viagra" is less effective than its manufacturer, now Valeant, has claimed. (Color us shocked.) The drug, which has seen feeble sales since its approval last fall, resulted in women having 0.5 more sexually satisfying experiences per month, rather than the 0.8 additional sexually satisfying experience originally submitted.
      • In a February 29 New York Times article on the study, Dr. Fugh-Berman said, "an additional half a satisfying sexual encounter a month — is that meaningful? I think only the women can answer that, but perhaps they already have with their lack of enthusiasm for getting prescriptions."
      • Dr. Fugh-Berman's quote in the February 29 New York Times article on Addyi's extremely modest effects was reprinted in The Independent, Jezebel, HNGN, and Mic.

January 2016

  • PharmedOut's December tussle with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), which has obscured how much industry money is in CME, was picked up by Medical Marketing & Media on Dec. 30th and included in their weekly roundup of "Five Things for Pharma Marketers to Know".
  • Jan 12: Back in 2013, GlaxoSmithKline announced that they would stop paying physicians to promote their drugs, and has instead hired in-house physicians to do the job. On Jan. 12th, Dr. Fugh-Berman again spoke about Addyi to Refinery29. In "'Female Viagra' Is Here — But Few Women Are Using It", she said that "Certainly there are women that have low libido, but that can be caused by many different things, including medications, such as the birth control pill and antidepressants and blood pressure medicines, for example."
  • Jan 5: Dr. Fugh-Berman was quoted in Pacific Standard's "The Little Pink Pill That Sparked a Feminist War" about the "female Viagra" drug flibanserin/Addyi. She said that low libido is going to become a condition where not only are women going to think, ‘Oh, there’s something biologically wrong with me,’ [but also] ‘I have to try multiple treatments to fix myself." And while some women have claimed the drug's approval is part of the feminist movement, Dr. Fugh-Berman noted that "If the woman’s libido is lower than the guy’s, why’s that her problem? ... Maybe he’s oversexed. All of these labels are subjective and relational.”