Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Pharma Watch Author Outed?

Anonymous said...

"I'm speculating that Pharmawatch's latest post attracted the attention of legal departments. Hope he realises he has supporters, and that help is available should that be the case."
I must have missed that post, but here's a synopsis posted to PharmaGossip (see "Hurrah! - Pharma Watch is back"):

"Mike comments on the blood drugs: Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp and their recent issues raised in The Lancet."

"He notes:
Their editorial is quite restrained, but reading between the lines it is quite clear that the continued unsafe use of these drugs and these unethical trials are being driven by "commercial reasons".

The authors also mention that when another renal expert tried to highlight this appalling situation in an editorial accompanying one of the earlier trials showing adverse effects, it was rejected by the New England Journal of Medicine and eventually ended up in the Wall Street Journal of all places.

Shame on the NEJM (but after the Vioxx fiasco this is hardly surprise).
Legally, how do you shut down a blog for saying something as innocuous as that?

What I think is that "Michael Lascelles" (an alias), author of Pharma Watch, has been outed! And he is being shut down by his employers.

I had a correspondence with "Mike" way back in June 2005 before the Big Bang launched the Pharma Blogosphere as we know it today. Here's what he had to say about his blog and what motivates him: (see "Pharma BloggoSphere Update"):
"Why do I do it? I'm just doing it to let of a bit of steam about what I see happening to medicine under the increasing influence of pharmaceutical companies.

"I'm a pharmacologist and work in an institution that has links with several pharma companies. Over the last decade I've seen us becoming increasingly reliant on pharma funding and our managers have become increasingly nervous about what we say and do in relation to pharma companies. Therefore my blog, under a pseudonym, is a way of saying what I can’t say in public. If I blogged under my own name I’d be in a very difficult situation, to say the least.

"Most of my material comes from what I read in the local papers or what I find when surfing the net. As part of my work I have to keep up with a lot of medical journals, and there is more and more commentary in them too. I also get a lot of feedback on the blog now, which gives me leads and stuff to follow up. The blog also acts as a way of passing on what a lot of my friends and colleagues are saying, and the unease they are feeling about the influence of pharma companies.

“Unlike the more comprehensive and well written blogs like Pharma Marketing Blog, mine makes no attempt to be fair, accurate or reasonable. I'm not a journalist and don't have time to get all my facts right or follow things up. I’m just writing my own point of view, take it or leave it.

"My blog is not 'balanced' because I don't think you can be on this. I see it as my little [unpaid, part time] voice against a huge marketing and propaganda juggernaut that can afford to pay PR companies to work full time on their lavish campaigns, and an army of heavy duty lobbyists to sweet talk the politicians."
Mike may now be in the "very difficult position" he envisioned if his real identity was known. Although I agree with Anonymous, who said "Hope he realises he has supporters, and that help is available should that be the case," I'm afraid we might never hear from Pharma Watch again!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Didn't he have his picture on the blog? Was it someone else?

Sunil S Chiplunkar said...

Reading this makes me feel sick. BIG BROTHER is watching kind of a thing. But what the heck - the internet is a democratic space. Mike should be back in someother avatar. Marketing needs to be attacked not by emotion but by marketing. It is marketing warfare all the way. I suggest Mike should read the book Marketing Warfare by Al Ries and Jack Trout a few times - and lots of ideas will spring in his mind. He can resurface up with some sort of a flanking strategy. It is possible. Success is an act of will is a saying at a lead Indian software firm - Wipro. Mike we want you back on the pharma front. Nobody else can play God except God. Love Sunil S Chiplunkar www.pharmaceuticalshealthcare.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Or he could just be having a problem with new Blogger!

John Mack said...

Could be, but that's not as exciting a story as being outed is it? Besides, I switched and did not have any problems -- though I am reluctant to switch Pharma Marketing Blog because I have added so much code to the template I am afraid of it getting broken.

CL Psych said...

Ugh, I hope he didn't get outed. Amazing how one can spout as much pro-drug twaddle as one wants, and the only punishment you receive is to become a "key opinion leader," yet if you question the practices of pharma, you risk your career.

I switched to the new Blogger and my template didn't change. They didn't force me to change anything. My guess is it will work out well. The new version is faster and seems to be working well so far...

Bruce Grant said...

FWIW, the picture on the now "open to invited readers only" Pharma Watch was that of Hank McKinnell.

John Mack said...

There's been a lot of "Hank McKinnell" sightings. See, for example, McKinnell's New Gig: Male Model.

kyte said...

erm.. so does *anyone* have reading rights on pharmawatch? Or is it effectively closed. I had been reading it for three years, and had directed a few GPs I know who are concerned about whats going on in pharma-land. They can't access, either.

John Mack said...

I have no idea. I did send him an email at am old email address I had, but got no response.