Selective Transparency

  • by: |
  • 04/04/2007
An editorial in today’s edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune calls for consumers to “weed out conflicts in prescription drugs.”

According to the Star Tribune ...

“If you've taken a prescription drug lately, you might be feeling a little queasy about two recent Star Tribune stories showing that hundreds of Minnesota physicians accepted millions of dollars in fees, trips and other payments from the nation's drug manufacturers. Even assuming that doctors adhere to the highest professional standards, even assuming that the drug companies have the purest motives, this has to leave the average patient wondering if he or she got the safest, cheapest, most appropriate medicine on the market -- or the one that a drug company is pushing hardest at the moment.”

Talk about a loaded question!

But wait, it gets worse. The editorial continues …

“Consumers who are asking that question have a new ally called the Prescription Project. It's a coalition supported by Consumer Reports magazine and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to reduce conflicts of interest and make sure doctors are using the best unbiased research. The Minnesota Medical Association recently endorsed the website it uses to help inform consumers.”

But the editorial fails to mention that Consumer Reports also receives significant funding from the Engleberg Foundation – whose dollars come from no less a personage than Alfred Engleberg – who has earned northward of $100 million by successfully challenging the validity and enforceability of pharmaceutical patents and has generously shared in the resulting profits shared by generic drug makers. And, curiously enough, that funding is used to operate CR’s pharmaceutical “Savings Advisor” that offers, among other suggestions, “best buys” for Alzheimer’s medications.

An oversight on the part of the Star Tribune editorial page? Or just the most recent example of selective transparency?

Here’s a link to the full editorial:

If the Star Tribune believes that health care consumers deserve transparency, they should Gopher broke and do it right.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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