They (paid pharma promoters) are everywhere

Paid pharma promoters are everywhere and frequently they do not announce that they have financial ties to drug companies.

A Forbes Guest Blogger and his Pharma Ties

By Ed Silverman // February 23rd, 2010 // 7:39 am

matthew-mintzHere’s an embarassing moment for Forbes. Over the past week, a physician contributed a few items to the magazine’s science blog, defending various drugs that have recently been criticized or scrutinized over safety issues. Among them were GlaxoSmithKline’sAvandia diabetes pill; asthma meds, including Glaxo’s Advair and AstraZeneca’s Symbicort; and statins, such as AstraZeneca’s Crestor.

However, the site never noted that the physician, Matthew Mintz, who is listed as an associate professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center in Wash., DC, had other credentials – consulting fees or advisory board participation for Glaxo and AstraZeneca, among others (look here). In the first second quarter of 2009, Glaxo paid him $11,050 (see here).

The oversight was corrected Monday afternoon when staffers for US Senator Chuck Grassley, who released a report over the weekend alleging Glaxo hid safety issues surrounding Avandia, complained to Forbes (perhaps they wanted to make Mintz meat out of him?) In response, Forbes placed an editor’s note on blog posts Mintz wrote over the past few days about Avandia and Advair, among other drugs, indicating his ties to various drugmakers.

There is nothing wrong, of course, with Forbes seeking guest bloggers, regardless of their views on a particular drug, company or issue. Dialogue is healthy and should be encouraged. The issue is not Mintz’ point of view. There is irony, though, that a lack of disclosure cropped up over an item about Glaxo’s own alleged lack of disclosure. And so a suggestion: In their rush to recruit contributors, web sites need to ask questions. And docs should be sporting and ensure pertinent info is posted.

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