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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cancer and what it does to money

The topic of money and cancer has come up in several electronic conversations I have had recently. I received a link to a story about a woman near Kansas City who has the same type of cancer as I do. Her cancer has returned, appearing in her lungs, and the treatment her doctor prescribed has been denied by her insurance company. You can read about her story here: There are a couple of clinical trials with that drug going on right now, but no drug has been shown to be effective against adenoid cystic carcinoma, which is why the company is not paying for the treatment. Since it is a rare cancer, no telling how soon any drug will be tested enough to be shown that it is effective.
I received another message concerning money and cancer from Jeanne Sather, author of The Assertive Cancer Patient. In her recent blog post, she calls for a boycott against Amgen and Johnson & Johnson, because they have paid doctors to prescribe their drugs. She links to the story about the 'incentives' in the New York Times.

I did a quick search, and found out through a Newsday article that a report in the New England Journal of Medicine says 25 percent of doctors have received direct payments from pharmaceutical companies (

Other related links:

A 2002 article in BMJ "Ethics of undisclosed payments to doctors recruiting patients in clinical trials"

"Pharmaceutical Company Payments to Physicians", JAMA. 2007;297: 1216-1223 (March 21, 2007). This article links to the 2006 Prescription Drug State Legislation, and the 2007 Prescription Drug State Legislation

A blog commentary on the JAMA article:

But Vermont and Minnesota appear to be lax in allowing public to access records of pharmaceutical gifts to doctors:

There is a No Free Lunch organization, which believes that pharmaceutical promotion should not guide clinical practice

The American Medical Student Association has a PharmFree push each year

The lawyers are paying attention:

And a blog that updates and adds commentary to the book: HOOKED: ETHICS, THE MEDICAL PROFESSION, AND THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY, by Howard Brody, MD, PhD (Rowman and Littlefield, January, 2007)

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