Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Yesterday was the 4th and since I really only blog in the office and I wasn't working, obviously, low on posts (none). Today, I've actually had (gasp) work to do (more than exceedingly rare), so I put together a big presentation this morning. There is a bit news, however, this morning. Namely, I got a response (which I'm quite excited about) back from Dr. Thomas Stossel, who wrote this editorial in the Post that I linked to here. Admittedly, I was more than a little unfair to him, failing to really put any consideration into the article besides lumping it into the typical science/industry mold. I inquired with him looking for more information on the questions he raised, as well as soliciting his response to this series that ran in the Seattle Times last year. Below is his response, along with links to those documents (when available) that he refered me to.

Dear Mike,
Thank you for your interest in our Washington Post piece. It is the latest emanation of my night job of taking on what I refer to as “the conflict of interest cult.” I attach my other efforts, which to some extent address your question regarding the articles to which you referred. If you can stand it, I recommend slogging through the somewhat longer article that I just sent to Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. It addresses why you can’t compare doctors (clinicians and researchers) defining what is “healthy” (an opinion) with SEC regulators with investigatory powers.
The cult, which has had nearly 20 years of unopposed airtime, has so successfully brainwashed the media that almost anything and everything is now an alarming conflict. For some reason the link to the Seattle Times piece only gave me fragments, but I got the gist which falls under one of the cult’s rubrics, namely that a conspiracy of companies and their thralls engage in “disease-mongering.” A particularly mendacious example appeared a few weeks ago in the New York Times accusing the Hypertension Society of this activity (dropping the acceptable blood pressure level to accommodate increased use of anti-hypertensives). Reading between the lines, activists or people with grievances in the Society alerted the reporter who based the entire piece on the money without making any effort to address the science (which, of course, is much more difficult, not to mention boring).
Regarding Viagra-mongering, I can’t help noting the irony that it is the same folks who think Bill Clinton got a bum rap over Monikagate who are suddenly prudes when it comes to how we define ED! And my colleagues who are apoplectic over the idea of intelligent design as the explanation for biological species (as well they should be) are eager to design society in general and medicine in particular “intelligently.”
Disease mongering is in my opinion largely a cultural issue, and it is not the responsibility of the drug industry to change our culture nor is it the only actor “mongering” in society. Alternative medicine, the health and fitness industry (providing a lot of business for orthopedists and physical therapists), not to mention the voluntary health organizations are all into it. The American Cancer Society (which I dearly love, as I am an ACS Professor) nevertheless wants you to worry about cancer cradle to grave, get every test and indulge in every treatment. There is no support group, as far as I know, for stoics.
My goal now is to stop being the lone lunatic taking on the cult. I hope that more credible physicians and medical researchers will start fighting back.
Thomas P Stossel, MD
American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Co-Director, Hematology Division
Brigham & Women’s Hospital
1 Blackfan Circle, Karp 6
Boston, MA 02115
Tel 617 355 9001
Fax 617 355 9016

Mere Magazines
(WSJ Dec. 30, 2005)
Witch Hunt (Feb. 21, 2006)
Here is a link to a journal locator page with a paper which he sent me, and which unfortunatly I can't add to the blog. He also sent a recently submitted article from "Perspectives in Bioloy and Medicine", and a chart purporting to show...I'm not exactly certain what yet. Anyway, before writing anything more about this, I think I'd best take the time to read everything he sent. Hopefully that will be done this afternoon.


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