Fibro Doctors Chose Pfizer Over You
Do you like Lyrica, Cymbalta or Savella? Have any of these meds cured you? Or has cognitive behavioral therapy been the answer for your fibromyalgia symptoms? According to the FibroCollaborative, a program funded by Pfizer and made up of 25 physicians, these would be your only options.1 This is what they promote as the roadmap to success, but actually, it is the roadmap to doom for all fibromyalgia patients.
You may have initially viewed the FDA-approval of Lyrica as a milestone, but chances are you did not know what was brewing behind the scenes. Soon after the FDA-approval of the three drugs, new criteria for fibromyalgia appeared in print in early 2010.2,3,4 They don’t require a doctor to examine or talk to you; identifying your illness has been reduced to filling out a 2-page form. The criteria were disguised as an easier way for primary care providers to diagnose fibromyalgia, but more than likely, it expands the diagnosis to anyone who has muscle pain and trouble sleeping.
This new way to sell more drugs (even though each one only works in one out of 8 to 15 patients) can be credited with one of the big chiefs of the FibroCollaborative, Daniel J. Clauw, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.5 Clauw is the author of many research papers, but lately, the majority have just been about pushing certain drugs. He and his Pfizer-affiliated colleagues want all primary care doctors to know there are three drugs for treating fibro: Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella. Although many medicines are available to treat you, few others are mentioned.
While everyone thinks of researchers as working on the patient’s behalf, when it comes to the 25 members working on Pfizer’s behalf, it is hard to believe that your interests will trump profits. But don’t think this money-making plan was solely cooked up by Clauw. He shares the podium with:
Lesley M. Arnold, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati,
Bill H. McCarberg, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente,
L. Jean Dunegan M.D., JD, of Brighton, MI,
and Dennis C. Turk, Ph.D., of the University of Washington.
What’s more, there are another 20 members who dance to Pfizer’s tune that deserve acknowledgment as well:
Kenneth Barrow, PA–C, MHS – Wilmington, NC
*Lucinda Bateman, M.D. – Salt Lake City, UT
Larry Culpepper M.D., MPH, – Boston University
Cassandra Curtis, M.D. – Greenfield, IN
Yvonne D’Arcy, M.S., CRNP – Johns Hopkins
Kevin B. Gebke, M.D. – Indiana University
*Robert Gerwin, M.D. – Bethesda, MD
*Don L. Goldenberg, M.D. – Newton-Wellesley Hospital
James I. Hudson, M.D., ScD – McLean Hospital
Rakesh Jain, M.D., MPH – Lake Jackson, TX
Arnold L. Katz, M.D. – Overland Park Medical Center, KS
Andrew G. Kowal, M.D. – Burlington, MA
*Charles Lapp, M.D. – Charlotte, NC
*Michael McNett, M.D. – Chicago, IL
*Philip J. Mease, M.D. – Seattle, WA
Danielle Petersel, M.D. – Pfizer, NY
*I. Jon Russell, M.D., PhD – San Antonio, TX
Stephen M. Stahl, M.D., PhD – San Diego, CA
*Roland Staud, M.D. – Gainesville, FL
Alvin F. Well, M.D., PhD – Oak Creek, WI
Those with an asterisk used to advocate for fibromyalgia patients (along with Clauw), but how can anyone view their actions with integrity given their alliance with a drug initiative that only promotes three medications for treating fibro? If you need something to help you fall asleep at night, you best get hip with Lapp’s behavior modification program.
Perhaps it is good news that Lapp’s behavior program is free on his website. Of course, once you have given all of your contact details on the website, who is to say they won’t get passed along to Pfizer?
While talented physicians and researchers have placed their loyalty to the drug company, rather than remaining independent-minded scientists, the question is: why? There had to be a draw to the drug company’s scheme. Money? Power? Or maybe a little of both? Regardless of the reasons, it appears that treating patients is no longer their primary interest.
These days, one may automatically assume patient organizations are working in collaboration with the drug companies. It can be a sneaky way of connecting you to Pfizer’s initiative, to collect info about you as a fibro consumer in order to improve their marketing strategies. Is that really what you want as a patient, to be viewed as marketing income from the organizations you trust to have your back?
Take for example, the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), who even in the midst of legal troubles keeps sending out emails to patients to collect more data on you. They have a disconnected phone number and an address that is nothing more than a box. Now the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) out of Utah has taken over the patient-related reins of the NFA. They promote the FibroCollaborative on their website, so perhaps they sit at the same table with the NFA, the American Chronic Pain Association, and others to help Pfizer’s bottom line.
This is not the case for the Fibromyalgia Network (or the American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association). There is a price to pay for not being a puppet on Pfizer’s or anyone else’s string. Although the Network makes lots of info available for free, we have to charge for our publications. That’s the price you pay for objectivity.
1. Arnold LM, Clauw DJ, et al. Mayo Clin Proc 87:488-96, 2012.
2. Wolfe F, Clauw DJ, et al. Arthritis Care Res 62:600-10, 2010.
3. Wolfe F, Clauw DJ, et al. J Rheumatol 38:1113-22, 2011.
4. Arnold LM, Clauw DJ, et al. Mayo Clin Proc 86:457-64, 2011.
5. Clauw DJ, et al. Mayo Clinic Proc 86:907-11, 2011.