Pharma and Device Blog Watch

September 12, 2007

Medical Journals, Ads and Industry Ties (Pharmalot)
In his blog, Ed Silverman discusses an essay in Slate by Kent Sepkowitz, a New York City physician, that says medical journals should be open about the revenue received from companies whose drugs or devices are being discussed, as well as details about the number of ad pages and amount spent to purchase reprints and supplements.

“‘Just as pharmaceuticals fund studies and pay doctors to give lectures, so too do they buy journal ads and reprints of favorable articles — lots of them,’” according to the blog. A scientific article on a company’s product will often be followed by a high-gloss ad a few pages later, Sepkowitz continues. Readers may learn about the author of an article showing a drug at great advantage, but the medical journal does not disclose anything about itself.

“‘Just as compromised relationships are unusual among researchers, they are likely, in the end, to be unusual among medical journals. But it is naive to think that only authors are influenced by who is writing the checks,’” Sepkowitz says.

Silverman points out that a similar argument was made last year in a study published in the British Medical Journal. “But the issue is whether such an approach would make a useful difference,” he writes.    

YouTube Contest Entries Can Be Used in Novartis Advertising (Pharma Marketing Blog)
Novartis will own the rights to all of the videos submitted to its FluFlix Video Contest on YouTube, allowing the company to use them in future product advertising, writes John Mack in his blog. The contest encourages people over the age of 18 to submit videos talking about the flu and its effect on their everyday lives.

When the contest was announced last week, Mack predicted that contestants would have to sign over their rights to the company, “who would then incorporate some of them (or clips from the videos) into branded TV commercials for Fluvirin, Novartis’ flu vaccine.”

According to the official contest rules, contest entrants also must “‘participate in interviews with sponsor; permit sponsor to use the entrant’s winning entry, name, likeness, hometown, voice, biographical information and excerpts from the interviews conducted with the entrant … for purposes of advertising, promotion and publicity of sponsor and its products.’”

If Novartis does use the videos in product advertising, Mack writes, it would “close the circle on the first-ever perfect execution of the YouTube ‘User-Generated’ Video Trick.”