Thursday, 3 December 2009

Posted by Dr. Thunder.

Well, they said it couldn't be done......

A conference without drug company sponsorship.

It was a small gathering, but I was there. Last week I went to my first ever "pharma-free" conference. It wasn't big. It wasn't fancy. There was no breakfast provided. Lunch was a few sandwiches and a slice of cake. There was a dinner afterwards, which you could attend at your own cost.

The experts were mostly local. Nobody was flown halfway round the world on a first-class flight and put up in a penthouse suite.

But the information presented was pretty much as good as that presented at any other conference I've ever been to. The meeting was based in a large capital, so there's plenty of research going on locally to present. A couple of times, research was discussed that hadn't been conducted by the presenter, in a "new developments in....." format.

It was great. Nobody was trying to sell anything. Nobody was trying to con us into presecribing their new decidedly average wonder drug. The cost of attending hardly ate into our budget at all.

It was just doctors talking about the best science. I loved it.

I have real problems with the pharmaceutical industry. I have no problems with them developing lifesaving drugs. Let's be honest, we'd have much worse outcomes without the pharmaceutical advances of the last 10 or 20 years.

But the way they try and peddle their drugs, regardless of how effective they are, gets very tiring, and ultimately erodes any trust in them.

This was a small conference, though, and only a small step in the right direction. As things stand, there's a world of work to do in order to limit the interface opportunities between drug reps and healthcare professionals.

BUt this was one step that was supposed to be impossible. BUt it' wasn't.

Dr. Thunder.


  1. I might be wrong - but my husband attends an international congress every year which I'm sure has no big pharma sponsorship, I've certainly never been aware of it when I go with him. The local newspaper has been known to donate notepads. Occasionally we manage to get money from various - but not drug - companies. It's not strictly medical - oodles and oodles of science too - but how oxygen gets from out there to in there gets quite a lot of medical interest! But pharma - well, only the blood substitute lot are interested and they never seem to have too much money!
    It's an exercise in arrangement - but we have terrific meetings. All over the place - Oz, Japan, various less exciting places in the USA, and some very nice places in Europe! But we don't expect frills and furbelows. Lunch these days tends to be picnic bags. But a boat has become de rigeur in some shape or form. Try googling ISOTT!

  2. Hey anonymous, thanks for that info.Just googled it. Very interesting. I'm sure there are a few conferences out there, that don't attract drug company funding.

    But the pharmaceutical industry stil manages to permeate almost every aspect of almost every conference.

    Their greatest con has been convincing doctors that they're not influenced by their marketing.

    I'm sure this is why so many docs tell me "I don't object to drug company sponsorship because I don't pay any attention to it".