Thursday, January 09, 2014

PharmaLot Sent Down the Memory Hole

As noted in blog posts (The Scientist, the Pharma Marketing Blog, Shearlings got Plowed), and one solitary newspaper article (San Diego Union-Tribune), Ed Silverman's PharmaLot blog is no more.

The main page of the blog has been replaced with a simple announcement.

UBM Canon has ceased the production of the following brands: Med Ad News,, Pharmalot, eKnowledgeBase and R&D Directions.

Thank you for your loyalty and support that has played such an important part over the last thirty years.

As others have noted, the shutdown of PharmaLot will remove an important source of news and opinion about the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.  Ed Silverman provided unbiased, insightful reporting.  Notably for the Health Care Renewal audience, he was not afraid to report on the good, the bad, and the ugly. He was no friend of marketing and public relations smarm.  Often he was first to break stories involving legal settlements, guilty pleas, and miscellaneous misconduct, and in some cases was one of the few to document such stories.

For example, in my current file, I note that PharmaLot provided one of the few accounts of a $21 million fine imposed on Merck by French antitrust regulators (here is the brief Reuters version.)  PharmaLot reported on a judgement against Actelion for anti-competitive practices in support of its drug for pulmonary artery hypertension.  The only other media report on this was in the San Francisco Chronicle, and it was less detailed. 

As we have noted endlessly, bad behavior by large health care organizations, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and the various organizations with which they interact, like contract research organizations, medical education and communication companies (MECCs), etc has often been anechoic.  If one likes to get along by going along, it is not a good idea to make too much of a fuss about such issues and suppression and manipulation of clinical research, deception in  marketing, and perverse incentives including the creation of conflicts of interests, much less outright crime and corruption.  Ed Silverman was known to fuss about such issues.

So the loss of his ongoing reporting, and willingness to post controversial interviews and editorials, will be sorely missed.

Even more concerning, however, is the loss of his previous work. As noted in The Scientist's blog, the PharmaLot archives are now inaccessible.  Although there are workarounds for the web-savvy that may allow retrieval of some of his previous work, especially if one knows what one is looking for, straightforward access is now difficult, and may become more difficult as it ages.

Since PharmaLot provides an important archive of important problems with ethics, management and governance in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, and since such issues as noted above often go minimally or not reported, permanent loss of previous PharmaLot content would be a big blow to transparency in health care, and a big boost for the anechoic effect.

The current owner of PharmaLot is UBM Canon.  This company, as noted by a comment on The Scientist's blog post, easily verified here, is heavily involved with marketing and promotion for the pharmaceutical industry.  I can only hope that they will not succumb to any temptation to suppress the important documentation of the industry that PharmaLot provided, even if that documentation might have not always made industry honchos happy. 

ADDENDUM (17 January, 2014) - the PharmaLot site is now entirely unavailable, that is, going to it yields a 404 not found error.


NPA said...

Look for some of the Pharmalot site here: It's a phenomenal nonprofit effort.

Anonymous said...

Here you go:

Anonymous said...

Coup by the pharma industry to quash dissent?

Anonymous said...

To every thing there is a season, and a time.