Pharma research group suggests the need for communication clarity

The National Pharmaceutical Council is one of the vehicles through which drug companies get their message to people within the industry and to business leaders and politicians who are involved in paying bills and passing laws.

The NPC says it strives to produce credible research and leave overt lobbying and advocacy to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Both groups' members are major companies in the pharmaceutical industry.

The NPC members are mostly brand-name drug makers, though a few, like Teva with the addition of Cephalon produce brand-name drugs and generic equivalents. The Generic Pharmaceutical Association represents the view of generic companies.

"Our credibility and the credibility of our research is our lifeblood and without it, we would not succeed," NPC President Dan Leonard said the other day.

The NPC has its headquarters in Washington, but it held a board meeting in Philadelphia last week, as it occasionally does, meaning some of the top commercial officers of member companies convened to talk about research efforts.

Leonard said his organization tries "to keep our eyes over the horizon," in soliciting, funding, editing and publishing research content that deals with how drugs fit into the health-care equation.

Two issues that have moved from over the horizon to the current stage are comparative effectiveness of various ways of treating people and how much freedom drug companies have to talk about their products and the underlying research.

The NPC undertook a study of comparative effectiveness research (CER) that was published late last year in Health Affairs. The link is here.

The NPC, WellPoint and the National Health Council sponsored Thursday's gathering in Washington, which is titled, "Asymmetry in the Ability to Communicate CER Findings: Ethics and Issues for Informed Decision Making."

Arthur Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and Robert J. Temple, Deputy Center Director for Clinical Science, FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research are among the scheduled speakers.