Dr. Bryan Vartabedian presents some interesting questions about patient advocacy for the medical and health industry.
Will industry be required to publicly list monies used for sponsorship, travel and swag support of high profile patients in the social sphere?
I’m not sure they will be required but I think they should. Whenever any kind of compensation is involved objectivity is ruined. I think that even when the compensation is without expectation of reciprocity, the recipient often feels, because of cultural norms, obligated to respond in a positive way. We always feel the need to say “Thank You” whenever someone does something nice for us. It’s just the way we are trained.
Should high visibility patients who serve as stewards and advocates disavow themselves of contact with pharma just as many academic medical centers have begun?
In my opinion, this one is a lot more challenging. If my life has been saved by a drug or treatment I am more likely to recommend or endorse that treatment. It’s human nature. We want to share our experiences — positive or negative — and that’s a powerful thing. The trick is sometimes we think that everyone can benefit from doing things our way even if the facts don’t fit the situation and we may not even be aware that our objectivity had been compromised. We may think, “I’m recommending this because this IS the best thing, not because I like happen to like the owner or because they paid for my expenses.” If we stick to relating our own personal experience in it’s full context then I think it’s okay.