From the Digestive Disease Week, Chicago.
Walking around McCormick Place this week, one was struck by what was — and was not — in evidence, given all the hoo-ha over conflict of interest in medicine these days. In the last few years, attendees were heaped up with purple-festooned items emblazoned with “Nexium“, the ubiquitous “Purple Pill” that is probably one of the most over-prescribed pharmaceuticals in America.
But this year, there was a severe shortage of gee-gaws, both at the registration desk and in the exhibit hall. I mean, not a single squeeze toy, pen or post-it note pad. The official DDW bag was a chic black cotton number. No drug company names, no embarassing slogans, just “DDW” and the cryptic acronyms for the four sponsoring professional societies.
Dianne Bach, DDW’s industry liaison, said the societies did not have any official new sponsorship policy, but that they had decided to follow the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America guidelines on industry support that went into effect in January. That means that sponsorship of lanyards, carry bags, ID tags, pens, and the like were out.
DDW still had to offset that lost revenue, however. The organization determined that drug company sponsorship of shuttle buses was OK. And, for the first time, says Ms. Bach, DDW allowed large banners in the convention center hallways.
Still, DDW’s addressing of the conflict issue is a far cry from moves made by other professional societies. The American Psychiatric Association recently said it would no longer allow industry-supported symposia at its annual meeting. DDW, however, has no plans to end those off-site seminars, says Ms. Bach.
And then there’s the matter of speaker disclosures. DDW compiled a list of presenter disclosures, but don’t look for it in print. The organization decided that at 180 pages, an on-line only version would be cheaper.
At many sessions I attended — and i heard the same thing from a few other reporters — speakers only made glancing reference to their conflicts.
Now that’s what I’d call an indecent disclosure in this day and age.
— Alicia Ault (on Twitter @aliciaault)