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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

US Senator Charles Grassley to Pfizer

It's a great pity the UK doesn't have politicians with the balls of Sen. Grassley.

Here's his latest letter to Pharma giants, Pfizer.


Via Electronic Transmission
Jeffrey B. Kindler
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Pfizer Inc.
235 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Kindler:

The United States Senate Committee on Finance (Committee) has jurisdiction over the Medicare and Medicaid programs. As a senior member of the United States Senate and as Ranking Member of the Committee, I have a special responsibility to the more than 80 million Americans who receive health care coverage under those programs to ensure that beneficiaries receive drugs that are both safe and effective.

For the last three years, the Committee has investigated various aspects of the pharmaceutical industry including industry funding for Continuing Medical Education (CME), and the failure of physicians to disclose payments from industry when applying for grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Further, inquiries have led the Committee to believe that physicians are failing to disclose the money they receive from companies as required by federal regulations governing NIH grantees.

I am currently looking further into these concerns. I was greatly disturbed to read an article in The New York Times documenting an employee of your organization who was taking cellphone photos of Harvard University (Harvard) medical students demonstrating against pharmaceutical influence on campus. I find this troubling as I have documented several instances where pharmaceutical companies have attempted to intimidate academic critics of drugs. Last February, I sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services pointing out that a pharmaceutical company hired a private investigative firm to background an FDA public safety officer.

While I am not certain that photographing demonstrators rises to the same level, it does raise concerns that Pfizer is attempting to intimidate young scholars from professing their independent views on issues that they think are critical to science, medicine, and the health and welfare of American taxpayers.

Accordingly, I request that you provide the following information:

1) A detailed account of payments and/or benefits of any kind that your company has given to the 149 Harvard faculty members mentioned in The New York Times article, and any other unreported Harvard doctors receiving payments. The time span of this request covers January 1, 2007 through the date of this letter. For each doctor receiving payments, please provide the following information for each payment:

a. Name and title of doctor,
b. Date of payment,
c. Payment description (CME, honorarium, research support, etc),
d. Amount of payment, and
e. Year end or year-to-date payment.

2) Any communications to include emails, faxes, letters, and photos regarding Harvard medical students demonstrating and/or agitating against pharmaceutical influence in medicine. The time span of this request covers January 1, 2008 to the present.

In cooperating with the Committee’s review, no documents, records, data, or other information related to these matters, either directly or indirectly, shall be destroyed, modified, removed, or otherwise made inaccessible to the Committee.

I look forward to hearing from you by no later than March 10, 2009. All documents responsive to this request should be sent electronically, on a disc, in searchable PDF format to Brian_Downey@finance-rep.senate.gov. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Paul Thacker or Emilia DiSanto at (202) 224-4515.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member


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Thanks to Stuart Jones for this.

PDF of letter can be downloaded HERE

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