Hidden conflicts of interest in continuing medical education

The Lancet, 11 November 2017
Authors: Ladan Golestaneh, Ethan Cowan
“Continuing medical education (CME) is an integral part of postgraduate training for medical professionals in the USA and globally. CME enables physicians to maintain and gain knowledge and skills that ensure optimal medical care and outcomes for patients. For these reasons CME is a required component of licensure in the USA. Since most physicians regularly complete CME hours, conflicts of interest that could introduce bias into CME must be avoided to prevent potentially detrimental downstream effects on patient care.”
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Bioethicists raise alarm about conflicts of interest in Australia’s IVF industry

SMH, 2 November 2017
Author: Esther Han
“A team of Australian bioethicists has found that conflicts of interest are leading to fertility doctors making decisions that financially benefit them and their employer, at the expense of their patients.”
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A cross-sectional analysis of pharmaceutical industry-funded events for health professionals in Australia

BMJ Open 2017; 7: e016701.
Authors: Fabbri A, Grundy Q, Mintzes B, et al
“To analyse patterns and characteristics of pharmaceutical industry sponsorship of events for Australian health professionals and to understand the implications of recent changes in transparency provisions that no longer require reporting of payments for food and beverages.”
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Court rules hospital can withdraw life support for sick baby

KFOR, 27 June 2017
Author: Nadia Judith Enchassi
“The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday a hospital can discontinue life support to a baby suffering from a rare genetic disease. Born in August, Charlie Gard has a rare genetic disorder caused by a genetic mutation that leads to weakened muscles and organ dysfunction, among other symptoms, with a poor prognosis for most patients. Charlie is on life support and has been in the intensive care unit at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London since October. His doctors wish to take him off life support, but his parents disagreed.”
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Legislature passes bill to rein in drug company perks for doctors

Press Herald, 20 June 2017
Author: Joe Lawlor
“A bill that would curtail gifts, speaking and consulting fees and expensive food flowing from pharmaceutical companies to doctors has passed the Legislature and awaits the signature of Gov. Paul LePage. the goal of the bill is to ensure doctors do not have conflicting interests when prescribing drugs – especially opioids – since Maine is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Maine had 376 drug overdose deaths in 2016 – an average of about one per day – an all-time high and 40 percent higher than in 2015.”
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Pfizer, Roche and Aspen face South African probe into cancer drug prices

Reuters, 14 June 2017
Authors: Paul Arnold, Tiisetso Motsoeneng
“South Africa’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into three drug companies accused of over-charging for cancer medicines, the agency’s chief said on Tuesday. The Commission, which investigates cases before bringing them to the Competition Tribunal for adjudication, said it suspected the lung cancer treatment xalkori crizotinib sold by Pfizer had been excessively priced as has the breast cancer drugs Herceptin and Herclon sold by Roche. It Commission also would look into whether Aspen might have over-charged for Leukeran, Alkeran and Myleran cancer treatments in South Africa.”
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Ethics Survey: Drug testing remains a clinical tug of war

Behavioural Net, 18 May 2017
Author: Julie Miller
“In recent weeks, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) prepared comprehensive guidelines on drug testing within the continuum of care. The goal is to present evidence-based recommendations for the frequency and application of testing, which payers and providers can adopt as best practices. It’s significant because up until now, there was no true consensus. And there’s also no denying that some treatment operators have aimed to maximize their profit streams through the overuse of testing and subsequent billing of insurance companies.”
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Disease-awareness ads lead to overdiagnosis, boost Rx sales

ModernHealthcare, 22 May 2017
Author: Alex Kacik
“Ads that try to bring awareness of diseases boost prescription drug sales and over diagnosis in the U.S., according to a new study. There is a fine line between direct-to-consumer drug ads, which the Food and Drug Administration regulates, and ads meant to create disease awareness that often skirt the purview of the FDA, per the article published in JAMA. Disease awareness advertisements, particularly for conditions that only have one approved drug treatment, can bolster drug sales and lead to “inappropriate” prescriptions as patients turn to their doctors and request the drugs they see advertised.”
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EU probes Aspen price gouging allegations

PharmaPhorum, 16 May 2017
Author: Richard Staines
“The European Commission is to investigate into whether South Africa’s Aspen abused a dominant market position by raising the price of a group of generic cancer drugs. Pharma pricing is already under scrutiny in the US, where president Trump has vowed to take action against high drug prices. But now authorities across the Atlantic are also concerned over so-called “price gouging”, where companies impose significant price rises for badly needed drugs.”
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Novartis, slammed by Korean scandal, tweaks its ethics, compliance policies

FiercePharma, 15 May 2017
Author: Eric Sagonowsky
“Rocked by a corruption scandal in Korea and facing a kickbacks probe in Greece, Novartis says it’s strengthening and simplifying its global ethics and compliance approach. Last month, Korean authorities handed out a $50 million fine and suspended coverage on several Novartis meds in relation to a bribery probe in the country. Novartis employees conducted a kickbacks scheme through medical journal-sponsored meetings, with the total spent on bribes estimated to be $2.3 million, according to officials. Last year, Novartis agreed to a $25 million settlement with U.S. authorities to put to rest a bribery investigation in China.”
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