Sunday, October 18, 2009

The bad workmen, er, bloggers, er, authors that blamed the tool - A tale of sidewikis and pharma.

Hey, when you cannot report actual news, you can simply make something up right? Even if it is not remotely connected? Even if you are attacking the wrong problem or providing the wrong suggestions?

So, I have decided to take the plunge as well. See, we are now on a 24 hour news cycle. Everyone needs to be yelling, yelping, blogging, vlogging, twittering, facebooking, other-anatomical-region-book-ing, and what not.

When there are no new protests to protect "innovation" (read old wine in new stents bottles), or no new articles that Merck never wrote, or no new medical device company "consultants" to write about...

Well, you make something up.

And so is born the great panic of 2012, er, "Sidewiki"!!!


According to Google, "Google Sidewiki is a browser sidebar that lets you contribute and read information alongside any web page."

In an effort to take on the wikipedias of the world (hey, I can create panic too!), Google has created a tool that can run alongside IE and Firefox 2+ and allows you to add your own mis-truths, truthinesses, truthisms and possibly a few facts to web pages.

This will allow you to go on your favorite (or not) Pharma/Med Device Company's (or any other website for that matter) and leave notes about exactly what you think of them. You can also get creative and leave pieces of your mind as well. And other stick-yer-nose-where-it-don't-belongers sidewiki users can join you in further glorifying these websites with their own colorful interpretations.

Pharma Companies, FDA and the manufacture of news

Now, let's make that into news.


1. Sidewiki is this evil tool that allows the evil patients suffering from mild side-effects of drugs and devices such as permanent disability, blindness, cancer etc., get a chance to go to the websites of the companies that defrauded and/or hid data, or never cared enough to perform studies on the cheap plumbing, I mean stents they make, or companies that made their hips squeak - and spew venom!

2. Sidewiki is also this charming, deceptive tool that will suddenly convert well-meaning, trained marketing folks who have hitherto shown such unparalleled levels of responsibility, to suddenly go on their own companies' sidewiki sites and exaggerate claims of what the devices and drugs can do.

3. The FDA, which is currently well equipped and is doing such an excellent job of regulating itself and the growing list of industries ranging from tobacco to drugs and food, being regulated under it's able command will suddenly loose direction and debilitated and miss out on just this one aspect - the regulation of pharma companies and how they interact on sidewikis!

Should we treat the symptom or the disease?

Wait you say. Isn't it possible for the genius marketing weasels to go and cook things up on the sidewiki and get their companies in trouble? Or for all these patients to go write about what happened to them and prevent these wonderful ineffective drugs and devices from making their investors stinking rich?

Well, yeah. The answer is in the famous words of the pithy cliche, "Your bathtub is overflowing, do you clear the water first or turn off the faucet first?"

Let's look at both possibilities:

You see, inappropriately trained employees who are told to take a laissez-faire attitude on ethics - marketing personnel, telemarketers, bloggers, Presidents, Fox News Reporters and even the unicorns could end up doing the wrong thing.

Merck did it with the fake publications...

Glaxo did it by hiding the news of Avandia..

Then there were Celebrex, Vioxx and Yaz...

The FDA and Congress with the knee implant approvals..

The Obama Administration's "tort reform" with it's misplaced and unfruitful love for "bipartisanship". (Well, then why not simply embrace Fox News? That would be one hell of a bipartisan move. Equally useless, but definitely bipartisan!)

You see, irresponsibility is omnipotent - the medium is not the problem.

The "new headache" that you will read about in the articles I will link below, are after all, not new headaches. If people decided to be ethical and make it policy, at the macro-level, not with individual policies for twitter and Facebook, then the problem is solvable.

A matter of shame

Being regulated and chastised by the FDA for ethical failures should be seen as a matter of shame by the company, not a bright, bubbly, cheerful "You might have recently seen some Yaz commercials that may have been misleading. The FDA, weak, useless and unable to actually do anything by way of real punishment, has asked us to further confuse you idiots.."

Only a bad workman or blogger blames his/her or someone else's tools. Others, try to keep going back to the central theme - the state of the industry, as it is, should have never come to exist.

There is still time to fix it.

Companies can still choose right against wrong.

Now, to the second issue:

Don't fight disgruntled patients and bloggers

Man up! There is bad news about you because YOU covered something up. You released the stent without ever bothering to find out if it worked. You knew your diabetes drug was causing heart attacks. You threw in Doctors' names when they did not even touch the publication. You paid people to "consult" and concoct data for you. You and your Congressman forced the approval of a dysfunctional device. You approved the device...

YOU are the problem. Not dead and dying patients.

Exhort that - don't simply look to score random, nonsensical brownie points dissing sidewiki or facebook.

Links to a couple of articles:

Story 1

Story 2

If you decide that you don't care much for ethics, then maybe Las Vegas is the place for you, not the pharmaceutical industry. It doesn't matter if you are manufacturing or "reporting".

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