Friday, January 17, 2014

Veterinary Payola or Veterinary "Partners"?

The North American Veterinary Conference starts tomorrow in Orlando, and it bills itself as the largest veterinary conference of the year.

Setting aside the fact the NAVC is happy enough to tout Sea World despite the controversy that is resulting in nearly everyone else with a reputation taking a pass on any association, there is the little matter of who pays for all those Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits that the vets are all so eager to rack up.

The web site of NAVC says:

At the NAVC, we love collaborating with organizations who are just as passionate as we are about promoting the quality of animal care around the world, and supporting your passion as well.


A quick looks at the "organizations" finds a thick roster of for-profit companies spreading payola to boost their bottom line.

So what's wrong with corporate sponsorship
for Continuing Medical Education credits?  Well, we need only look up the term "pharmaceutical fraud" in Wikipedia to find out:

The dissemination of “scientific and educational” literature. In the past a legitimate expense, they can be a tool for improper off-label marketing if they are designed and carried out under the control of a manufacturer’s influence and bias. Neither the presentations nor the literature are truly independent or non-promotional industry-supported educational activities.

And such frauds are not theoretical, are they?  One part of the government's recent $3 bilion settlement with GlaxoSmithKline was that:

GSK paid millions of dollars to doctors to speak at and attend meetings, sometimes at lavish resorts, at which the off-label uses of Wellbutrin were routinely promoted and also used sales representatives, sham advisory boards, and supposedly independent Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs to promote Wellbutrin for these unapproved uses.
Right.  And that's for humans, where the law is clear, lawyers and whistleblowers are properly incentivized, and the fines and penalties are steep.  You still think massive amounts of payola aren't a core part of the veterinary trade?   Dream on.

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