Key Opinion Leaders in medicine are paid to have an opinion

It seems that there are enough physicians out there who aren’t even a tiny bit embarrassed about referring to themselves out loud as “Thought Leaders” or “Key Opinion Leaders” to keep Canada’s Dr. Sergio Sismondo busy writing about them.

I first wrote about his work in A Philosopher’s Take on Big Pharma Marketing. Focusing on what he calls the pharmaceutical industry’s “corruption of medical knowledge”, the Queen’s University professor now has a new paper in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.

In it, he warns us about physicians and academic researchers who willingly become financially enmeshed in Big Pharma’s marketing efforts:(1)  Continue reading

Handy hints for getting along with your drug company

Pity the poor pharmaceutical industry, much maligned by those concerned about marketing-based medicine. Ray Moynihan is one of the most vocal watchdogs of the industry.  He’s the Australia-based co-author with Alan Cassels of a compelling book called Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients.

His work on disease-mongering has intrigued me for years, and now he offers these handy hints for physicians on how to get along with your friendly neighbourhood drug or medical device company.  These hints are in response to a British guideline for physicians written by a multinational stakeholder group, including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). Neither the group’s membership nor funding is declared in the guidelines or on the ABPI website.

Here’s Moynihan’s cheeky advice* in the British Medical Journal for doctors who are reading this guidance: Continue reading

Paying celebrities to shill your drugs

Allergan’s Latisse is an eyelash-growing drug prescribed to treat a condition called hypotrichosis. This is a condition of no hair growth (not to be confused with the condition of alopecia, which describes hair loss where formerly there was hair growth).  That’s not how Allergan chose to describe the condition of hypotrichosis on its Latisse Patient Information sheet:

“Hypotrichosis is another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes.”

But as John Mack astutely notes in Pharma Marketing News:

“I imagine asking a woman if she has ‘adequate’ or ‘enough’ eyelashes is like asking a man if he has a ‘big’ enough or ‘hard’ enough penis. It is unlikely, therefore, that any woman wouldn’t want to try Latisse at least once.”

How then to get more women to ask more doctors to help sell more of this eyelash-growing drug?  Hire a famous person to pitch your product! Enter professional celebrity-for-hire (Volkswagen-Ford-Coppertone-LaZBoy-Colgate-Tupperware) Brooke Shields, who explains on her Latisse video diary how she also became a paid shill for this Allergan drug:      , Continue reading