Author of “Pharmaphobia” Says Conflict-of-interest Regulations Are Slowing Medical Progress

June 8, 2015 – In his new book, “Pharmaphobia: How the Conflict of Interest Myth Undermines American Medical Innovation,” Tom Stossel, M.D., states that regulations designed to limit valuable interaction between industry experts, physicians and researchers have “undermined scientific progress and stifled American medical innovation.”

According to Stossel, the book has two purposes: (1) to explain what medical innovation has accomplished and how it works; and (2) to expose the “phamaphobes” who deny the contributions made by industry and “allege that industry is corrupt and corrupts physicians and researchers who partner with it,” and “explain why they are wrong and the damage they do.”

Stossel told the Coalition that this damage includes “prevention or delaying of research activities and outright banning of activities that promote medical education and good patient care,” such as providing product samples.

“Tom Stossel, a distinguished Harvard professor, provides a refreshing new view of the conflict-of-interest debate by asserting that the existing focus on conflicts rather than collaborations ultimately hurts medical innovation and clinical practice,” said Coalition for Healthcare Communication Executive Director John Kamp. “Stossel rightfully demands that it’s time to rethink and refocus the conflict of interest discussion.”

The book calls out “the false insinuation that the medical products industry and those who partner with it are corrupt, placing personal profit above providing medical value.” Stossel uses facts and figures to dispute this notion. He also does the following:

  • Documents how private industry is the major engine of medical innovation, but requires partnerships between industry, physicians, and universities.
  • Delineates the current and future damages such “conflict-of-interest” allegations, and the stifling regulations they have spawned, have done to medical innovation.
  • Prescribes how citizens wanting medical innovation and industry should resist the vested interests that have created the damaging allegations and regulations.

When asked specifically about the impact of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, Stossel told the Coalition that the Sunshine Act “epitomizes the success the pharmaphobes have had in inappropriately demonizing industry and M.D.-industry partnership.” He added that “aside from being useless and insulting – and being a vehicle for shaming – it diverts billions of dollars from research, product development and education to compliance.”

Stossel, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, is a hematologist and medical researcher at Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He will be interviewed by his son, Scott Stossel of The Atlantic, on Tuesday, June 16, from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. To watch live online, click here on June 16 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Registration is not required.