In the News

Pharmaphobes, pharmascolds and conflict denialists

by Roger Collier
Canadian Medical Association Journal
November 17, 2015

Dr. Lisa Rosenbaum expected some backlash. She knew the subject she was writing about was controversial. Heck, the topic itself contains the word “conflict.” And yet, despite this, she was still surprised by the flood of angry responses to her articles.

“I’ve written things before and people haven’t liked it, and I’ll get a few emails telling me how I was wrong,” said Rosenbaum, a cardiologist and national correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine. “I’ve angered people before but certainly not to this extent.”

The much-criticized articles in question are a three-part series that explore the trade-offs of regulating conflicts of interest in relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. According to Rosenbaum, one of her goals in writing the articles, published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, was to closely examine what she calls “an interesting collision of emotion and reason.” There is often a knee-jerk reaction to conflicts of interest in medical research, she said, and a tendency to focus only on the risks of physician–industry relationships while ignoring potential benefits.

“Before we can have a reasoned debate, we need to get past the emotion,” said Rosenbaum. “Nobody wins when pharma sponsors a trial with robust data and we refuse to use it.”

To read the full article (and the rest of the three-part series), click here.