It's been a while since this blog issued an integrity award, so I am happy to confer that honor on Drs. Peter Libby (cardiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital); Kelly Brownell (obesity medicine, Yale); and Eric Winer (breast oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). They were profiled in today's New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/health/15conf.html?_r=2&ex=1365998400&en=af5a4553709a6ccb&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
Each previously accepted speakers' and consulting fees from the drug industry, but recently decided that the stigma and the threat to their own reputations and objectivity were too great and began to accept no payments for contacts with industry. They varied in their levels of ethical commitment to this course; Dr. Brownell was eloquent in speaking about his own fears of loss of objectivity, while Dr. Winer indicated some lingering resentment that changing social attitudes about Pharma money had forced him to have to make this decision.
The changing attitudes are the main news story here. Added to news earlier in the week of companies offering "voluntarily" to release information on gifts and payments, the fact that these highly placed academics, who in the past were happy to take industry money, now feel that the wind has significantly shifted, may be some of the best evidence yet that the shift is actually occurring.
Kolata G. Citing ethics, some doctors are rejecting industry pay. New York Times, April 15, 2008.