During the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) conference in Boston, I attended an industry sponsored evening symposium. This was held by a pharmaceutical company promoting a new antibiotic.
A lavish meal was provided in plush surroundings for approximately 300 attendees. It must have cost the company a small fortune… To ASM’s credit, at least it was clear on the program that it was an industry sponsored event.
Three “expert” speakers had been recruited to talk at the seminar, and I am sure they were all handsomely rewarded for their efforts. I am also sure that all their talks were carefully vetted beforehand. The title of the seminar was not “Please use antibiotic X as much as possible“, but rather the more subtly titled “Best practice management for Infection Y in Population Cohort Z“.
You get the picture…
Each speaker declared multiple conflicts of interest, having received consulting fees from several different companies. They were all “distinguished” in the fields of microbiology and Infectious Diseases. A means of extra income I guess, but not the life for me. I prefer to set my own agenda as opposed to having it set for me…
Anyway, I made it through about half of the seminar before my conscience (and jetlag) got the better of me.
I guess the pharmaceutical companies would not hold these costly events if they did not think they were worthwhile. Maybe we all like to think we are immune to persuasion. However the reality is that most of us, to varying degrees, are not.
And in a sense the pharmaceutical company has achieved their aim. I am now aware of the new antibiotic, and when it becomes available in NZ, I would consider using it if the clinical circumstances justify it.
And I also got my “free” dinner…