Mount Sinai receives grant from US Attorney General office

Funding will be used to educate physicians and medical students about pharmaceutical company marketing practices

NEW YORK CITY -- The Office of the US Attorney General announced today The Mount Sinai Medical Center will be one of five recipients of a prescription drug education grant for health care professionals. The $400,000 grant is funded by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program and will be used to educate physicians and medical students about pharmaceutical company marketing practices and promote evidence-based prescribing practices.

The Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program secured funding through a 2004 Attorneys General settlement resolving allegations that Warner-Lambert, (a division of Pfizer, Inc) violated state consumer protection laws when marketing the drug Neurotin. The grant to Mount Sinai is part of one of five grants announced today totaling $1.9 million.

The grant, "Data Smog and Marketing Fog: A Critical Skills Curriculum to Educate Health Professionals about Rational Prescribing" is a collaboration among Mount Sinai researchers, educators, and health policy experts involved in teaching medical students, residents, fellows, and practicing health professionals in 13 hospitals in New York and New Jersey which are part of a Graduate Medical Education Consortium.

Ethan A. Halm, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine and Health Policy at Mount Sinai, said: "Health professionals are overwhelmed by 'data smog'−information overload about drugs from many conflicting sources, as well as dense 'marketing fog' from drug industry advertising and 'detailing.' This grant funds the development and dissemination of a curriculum to 'inoculate' and empower health professionals with the knowledge and skills to critically evaluate drug information, resist industry marketing techniques, and appropriately manage patients' drug-specific requests."

The Mount Sinai grant will feature a series of in-person and web-based lectures, seminars, and interactive exercises, as well as talks by a former pharmaceutical industry representative. Using Mount Sinai's Morchand Medical Education Center, a regional center of excellence in standardized patient technology, medical students will interact with actors portraying patients asking for advertised drugs and drug representatives engaging in common 'detailing' ploys and then get feedback on their performance.

Dr. Halm said that the overall goal of the project is to, "promote critical thinking and healthy skepticism among health professionals at all levels of training, as well as to equip them with practical knowledge, skills and experiences to become evidence-based, cost-effective prescribers. We want to make sure that the drug your doctor prescribes is the right drug for you, not just the right drug for the manufacturer."

The pharmaceutical industry reportedly spends more than $12 billion per year in the U.S. marketing their products, more than is spent on all medical education in the nation as a whole. The Attorney General grant program is a step toward advancing independent prescriber and consumer education regarding the marketing of pharmaceutical products. The five grants announced today are in addition to the $9 million awarded to twenty-three grantees for provider drug education on April 13, 2006.

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About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center, located in New York City, consists of The Mount Sinai Hospital, a tertiary care facility known for excellence in patient care and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, a leader in medical research and in the education of tomorrow's physicians by internationally known faculty. Founded in 1852, The Mount Sinai Hospital is one of the oldest voluntary teaching hospitals in the country and in 1963, the Hospital created Mount Sinai School of Medicine, beginning a close collaboration that has made Mount Sinai one of the leading academic medical center in the country. Today, the patients of Mount Sinai benefit as teams of physicians and scientists work together to rapidly translate laboratory research to new patient treatments. Many of the groundbreaking approaches that result from these collaborations are initially available at only a handful of facilities in the country--some, only at Mount Sinai. These advances make Mount Sinai the first choice for patients with complex medical and surgical needs.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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