From: “Becky Sulik”
Date: March 17, 2015 at 11:21:57 PM MDT
To: “‘Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics'”
Subject: RE: Message to Idaho Academy Members from Delegate (Ruth Schneider)
Having been involved in a physician practice/Diabetes Center for a number of years, I have seen this debate regarding Pharma and medical device companies. Although not completely the same, there are some similarities. I personally don’t object to companies sponsoring speakers and other items because I think there can be a win-win here and it can be done in a way that still upholds the integrity of the parties involved.
May people criticize the pharma industry for sponsoring clinical studies. 90% of the medications widely-used to treat many disease states and ultimately improve the lives of millions of Americans come from pharmaceutical research. I am the lucky beneficiary of such products since I have had type 1 diabetes for 30 years now. Industry-sponsored research provides the majority of the funding for this and it would not be possible without this funding since it is very expensive to prove efficacy and safety under the current regulatory climate in our country. My office participates in clinical research and I have seen that this process can still be appropriate and reduce bias. Are these pharma companies benefiting from the studies? Of course they are! They are businesses that need to prove their products’ safety and value to sell them; however, it is a win-win because people like me and the many others requiring life-saving insulin benefit. When a grant from a pharmaceutical company helps to fund a training or a speaker, it is again a win-win. I appreciate the low-cost or free CEU’s I have been able to receive through these types of programs. Regulations are in place to ensure the integrity of the process. Programs that are promotional in nature, or promoting a specific product, are clearly labeled as such and do not provide credits. I still find value in these and choose to attend on occasion because I get information that I can consider as I evaluate the product being promoted as well as its use professionally and personally.
So how about the food industry? Why can’t we have collaborations that can be a win-win for the Academy, a food business, and the American citizens? (And this does not mean we are “endorsing” products either). I think we can and have seen evidence of this. The Academy’s policy helps to limit the types of sponsorships and to retain the integrity of the process. I believe that some Academy members will never be satisfied as long as any relationship exists and this is disappointing. I as well as my patients/clients have benefited from websites, education materials, and programs that have been produced as part of such collaborations.
I have reviewed and support the Academy’s policy and activities in this area and respectfully urge my fellow Academy members to approach this with an open mind and be willing to look at the possible costs or results of getting rid of some of these valuable collaborations. I believe that the policy ensures the integrity of the process and I do not feel that we are compromising our standards here.
Maybe we need to get out more information about the positive outcomes from these types of projects and collaborations.
Becky Sulik, RD LD CDE
Director of Education
Rocky Mountain Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center
3910 Washington Parkway
Idaho FAlls, ID 83404
(208) 523-1122 x 530