Lively community forum scheduled at Rosenberg Library Tuesday evening on physicians links' with drug firms

For Immediate Release: March 23, 2007

GALVESTON, Texas - Should pharmaceutical companies be allowed to continue to advertise new and powerful drugs on TV?

Should your doctor be permitted to accept free samples of these drugs and pass them along to you?

Should physicians and academic researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in addition to their regular salaries, also be allowed to receive drug company retainers? Should they accept free meals, free trips or even free ball-point pens from drug companies?

A high-powered panel including Dr. Howard Brody, UTMB professor and author of "Hooked: Ethics, the Medical Profession and the Pharmaceutical Industry" (Roman and Littlefield, 2007), and John Swen, vice president for science policy and public affairs for Pfizer Global Research and Development, will present their very different perspectives on these and other issues at a community forum that is open to the public. The forum takes place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, 2007, in the Wortham Auditorium at the Rosenberg Library, 23rd and Sealy.

Panelists in addition to Swen and Brody, who is director of UTMB's Institute for the Medical Humanities, include Dr. Bernard Milstein, ophthalmologist, Eye Clinic of Texas; Dr. Thomas Carroll, Today's Dentistry; Dr. Erika Kelly, board-certified dermatologist; Dr. Dorothy Merritt, Mainland Medical Center and former medical director of HCT Hospice; and Paige Carlin, pharmacy manager, Randall's Galveston supermarket.

Relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and patients, doctors and academic medical centers such as UTMB are under more intense scrutiny than ever before. Some academic medical centers such as Stanford's and the University of Pennsylvania's already have heavily regulated or barred contacts between doctors, students and pharmaceutical industry marketing representatives. They also have forbidden their staff physicians from accepting gratuities such as free meals, trips and fees for advocating pharmaceutical companies' products at medical meetings.

UTMB currently is wrestling with deciding what its approach to these issues should be.

Retired business executive and Galvestonian George C. Prill organized the forum, which is sponsored by UTMB's Office of the President.
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144