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Who Provides You With Up-to-Date Treatment Information?
Popular Treatment Information Resources for Doctors and Patients -- and Their Reliance on Pharmaceutical Largesse

December 2004

Questioning the Firewall

"If you have a genuine firewall between the editorial and sales sides of your treatment magazine or website, you would be extremely unusual. For most journals and magazines, the pharma marketing people call the shots."

-- Marcia Angell, M.D., "The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It," (Random House, 2004)


This is the final version of a table from TAGline's September special issue.

Self-test: Inquire for yourself from those resources on which you most rely. Ask to see their business model. Looking for amusement on a cold, wet winter's day? Match top billing conference summary headlines to the sites' major sponsors. Answer key to come in 2005. TAGline will also try to get an interview or two with some of these sites' overlords.

Medscape.com

Bangkok (and ICAAC 44) conference coverage paid for by Bristol-Myers Squibb, GSK, Gilead and Pfizer.

Medscape's recent scrolling banner had one multi-PI resistant activist type misty eyed with nostalgia: "A drug you've trusted for years ... deserves a second look." The lucky recipient of this extreme makeover was, alas, Invirase. And an 11th hour email "blast" to Medscape subscribers (World AIDS Day eve) pitched an interview with DHHS guidelines panel chair John G. Bartlett on the October '04 updates. The breathless summary mentions tenofovir ELEVEN TIMES within a single page of text, squeezes in an argument for earlier treatment initiation and somehow glosses over the panel's lifting of the block against the use of hydroxyurea.

Pharma (or pharma consultant) sign-off on CME content? Yes __ No __

Sign-off (or assignments) for conference summaries? Yes __ No __

Pharma (or pharma consultant) selection of authors/reporters? Yes __ No __

TheBody.com

Bangkok (and ICAAC 44) conference coverage paid for by Abbott, Boehringer Ingelheim, Gilead, GSK, and Roche/Trimeris.

Pharma (or pharma consultant) sign-off on CME content? Yes __ No __

Sign-off (or assignments) for conference summaries? Yes __ No __

Pharma (or pharma consultant) selection of authors/reporters? Yes __ No __

ClinicalOptions.com (and its imedoptions.com sister site)

Bangkok (and IDSA and ICAAC 44) reporting and CME sponsored by BMS, Pfizer, Roche/Trimeris, Boehringer Ingelheim

Pharma (or pharma consultant) sign-off on CME content? Yes __ No __

Sign-off (or assignments) for conference summaries? Yes __ No __

Pharma (or pharma consultant) selection of authors/reporters? Yes __ No __

hivandhepatitis.com

Grants from Abbott, Gilead, Advanced Biological Labs, Ortho, Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche Diagnostics, BMS, Roche, GSK, Serono, Schering-Plough, Tibotec/Virco.

Of interest, the top story on their site in November was the Havlir et al. review article from the December 1, 2004 issue of Clinical Infectious Disease: "The Case for Earlier Treatment of HIV Infection." But they were in good company; most of the HIV websites gave this convoluted opinion piece top billing.

Pharma (or pharma consultant) sign-off on CME content? Yes __ No __

Sign-off (or assignments) for conference summaries? Yes __ No __

Pharma (or pharma consultant) selection of authors/reporters? Yes __ No __

aidsmap.com

Link from home page directs users to complete list of funding sources: www.aidsmap.com/en/about/funders.asp. Conflict-of-interest concerns are acknowledged up front, and a brief paragraph explains that the service tries to diversify its funding as much as possible. Among its many underwriters, however, figure the usual pharma companies: Abbott, BMS, Boehringer, Gilead, GSK, Merck, Roche, Shire. Pharma currently makes up 22% of its funding -- still a hefty chunk (smaller, I'm told, than that of the Treatment Action Group), but the aidsmap team is the most transparent of all the treatment information resources surveyed.

Pharma (or pharma consultant) sign-off on CME content? Yes __ No __

Sign-off (or assignments) for conference summaries? Yes __ No __

Pharma (or pharma consultant) selection of authors/reporters? Yes __ No __

HIVinsite.com

Grants from BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, Gilead, GSK, Ortho, Pfizer/Agouron, Roche, Schering Plough -- and Sun Microsystems and The Stempel Foundation.

Pharma (or pharma consultant) sign-off on CME content? Yes __ No __

Sign-off (or assignments) for conference summaries? Yes __ No __

Pharma (or pharma consultant) selection of authors/reporters? Yes __ No __

Poz magazine (Poz.com)

General magazine content, while bursting with HIV drug and nutraceutical ads (and for several years now, those premium drug company wrap around outside covers -- and a blazing BMS scrolling banner at its web site: "Ask your doctor about Reyataz.") is said to be uninfluenced by its sole reliance on pharma (and nutritional company) funds for operating revenue. Content of Poz "special supplements," however, is generally planned and written under close supervision of the pharma sponsor of that supplement's topic. (The magazine was recently sold and the HIV+ activist publisher forced out.)

PRN.com (Physicians Research Network)

Grants from Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche/Trimeris

Pharma (or pharma consultant) sign-off on editorial content? Yes __ No __

Selection (or sign-off) on meetings' speaker selection? Yes __ No __


Back to the TAGline December 2004 contents page.




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