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You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

We are well aware of how the Internet has transformed patients’ informationwindow.jpeg seeking behavior and their relationship with their physicians.  In addition, user-generated content has become a primary source of health content for many online health searchers.  For example, as illustrated in this study by my firm Envision Solutions, Wikipedia is quite popular.  

Given this, it is not surprising that pharmaceutical companies, public relations firms and others are very interested about the information featured on Wikipedia.  Unfortunately, in some cases, they have made edits to Wikipedia that don’t pass the red face test.  According to the group Patients Not Patents:

“Newly available data show that employees of Abbott Laboratories have been altering entries to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, to eliminate information questioning the safety of its top-selling drugs.”

The group went on to say these edits “illustrate drug companies’ eagerness to suppress safety concerns.”  With this new information about Abbott and the recent revelations about AstraZeneca, unfortunately critics of the drug industry have ample evidence to support their claims.  

Many pharmaceutical executives are preaching about the benefits of operating more transparently and providing the public with accurate (and relatively unbiased) information.  However, others are still operating under assumption that “command and control” communications tactics are still effective.  Listen up: The world is changing and you can’t hide any more.  There are lots of people out there looking for evidence of drug company malfeasance and they are more than willing to expose it.  No company is perfect, but drug firms have to do a better job helping their employees understand the rules of the game and that inappropriate online behavior is unacceptable.

Overall, I think that editing Wikipedia to improve the accuracy of information posted on the site is okay – even though the editors of the site would prefer this to be done via its “discussion pages.”  However, changing information about a drug’s safety or efficacy profile – especially if the data are published in a peer-reviewed journal – may violate FDA regulations and should be of great concern to drug firm compliance officers.

We’re living in a world of radical transparency.  You can run, but you can’t hide.


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» Depression Education, Cause Alliances & Social Media Communications -- Part VI from HealthCareVox
This article represents the final installment of a six-part series focusing on the Wyeth-sponsored non-profit coalition Depression Is Real.  To learn more about this series, please click here.kmmad ... [Read More]

Seems sleazy to me.

This is an article of great insight about how internet has provided and created an atmosphere that makes what I call collaborative news stories possible. Transparency in every aspect of living is going to continue being of paramount importance because of this.

The Prevention of Ignorance

Historically, information sources provided to American citizens were limited due to the few methods available to the public. And also this information was subject to being filtered and, in some cases, delayed or eliminated. This occurred for a number of reasons, which included political ones. What I am referring to is pre-internet sources, such as media sources in the form of radio, newspaper, and television, for example
Now, and with great elation (some may say), there is the internet, which has been useful to everyone from researchers to job seekers.
Soon after the advent of the internet, web logs were created, that are termed presently and simply ‘blogs’. At that time, about a decade ago, the blogs were referred to as personal journals or diaries visible on line. As time passed, blogs became a media medium, and blog communities evolved on topics that often were not addressed in mainstream media. In addition, blogs provide immediate contributions by others instead of the cumbersomeness of opinion and editorial pieces historically and not always presented in such media forms as newspapers.
The authors of blogs vary as far as the backgrounds of the creators of these journals, as well as their true intent of what they choose to present to possible readers. Furthermore, they are not exonerated from the legalities of what is written, such as cases of libel or plagiarism, for example. While we can presume that blog creators have at least an interest in a particular subject, ideally they should also have an interest and ability to annotate the written word. As with other printed material, the quality varies, as editing, I believe, is rare as far as what is posted on blogs.
Yet presently, blogs have become quite a driving force for those with objectives often and apparently opposed by others, and are possibly and particularly a great threat to big business and politics- both of which have been known to often monitor often the progress and/or content of some blogs, which potentially provide instant and often accurate information for readers- which includes what is posted on blogs as well as what may be commented on these posts. Understandably, this weapon certainly has the potential to affect such groups unable to prevent or filter what could expose what has not been disclosed, and at times needs to be disclosed. Rarely do blogs involve trade secrets, for example, as far as I know.
This also and fortunately includes information released from whistleblowers on certain blogs or directly to the creators of certain blogs- often and with good reason to remain invisible in doing so, as there have been such cases already through this blog medium- which is similar to YouTube, only blogs reflect what is written and not viewed. It’s an avenue of sharing information and overall assuring anonymity.
Yet, blogs are not free of fallacies, as one disadvantage of blogs is the potential lack of reliability, blogs however do allow the posting of documents that typically are not created for view of others besides perhaps a select few. Furthermore, blog owners, as with journalists, strive to verify any premise stated on their blog. For example, blogger Dr. Peter Rost, a whistleblower himself, not long ago posted a newsletter on his blog site given to him by pharmaceutical maker AstraZeneca employees who called themselves the ‘AZ Group of Seven’ to bring to the attention to others the illegal activity of off-label promotion of one of their cancer drugs. Yet this is not what caught the attention of so many with all of the content of this newsletter posted in completion on Dr. Rost’s blog site, “Question Authority”. It was instead a comment that was annotated as being stated by former regional AZ manager Mike Zubalagga, who in this newsletter referred to doctors’ offices as ‘buckets of money’. Again, the statement was authentic and in writing in this newsletter. At the same time, the statement validated what others view of pharmaceutical companies in relation to their greed, perhaps
Mr. Zubalagga was fired the next day due to this comment. His manager resigned soon afterwards.
And there have been other whistleblower blog cases in addition to this one, so blogs have become a very powerful and threatening medium of information release that does not allow others to prevent such releases. This is true freedom of information, free of alteration or omission. One could say that blogs are reaching a form of some sort of communication utopia. Also, as with the case just stated about the newsletter, some are more careful what is written than others.
Yet again, the information on these blogs should not be taken as absolute truth without proof to verify claims that may be made. Of course, documents that are authentic are in fact proof, as illustrated with the above example. And this, in my opinion, is the blog’s greatest value, combined with the comments on blogs from the growing number of readers who are allowed to contribute to the subject matter so quickly, which fuels the objectives of the blogs, which clearly opens formerly closed loops.
Because we, the public, have a right to know what we are entitled to know and what we want to know. This is especially true if the information could potentially be adverse to our well-being. Personally, I have no interest in the financial future of a company, for example. More important to me is the importance of knowing if others may potentially harm others with deliberate intent.

“Information is the seed of an idea, and only grows when it’s watered.” --- Heinz V. Berger

Dan Abshear
Author’s note: What has been written is based upon information and belief

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