Patients are the new darling of the medical-industrial complex. If you look around you will see patients advocating for one another. If you click a little closer you’ll find some with relationships to industry.
It makes perfect sense that the manufacturer of a drug or medical device would want the blessings of our nascent cybercelebs. Some want genuine patient input. Some, however, want to curry their favor. Chock up influence of the patient population as evidence of social health’s evolving maturity.
A couple of questions:
- Will industry be required to publicly list monies used for sponsorship, travel and swag support of high profile patients in the social sphere?
- Should high visibility patients who serve as stewards and advocates disavow themselves of contact with pharma just as many academic medical centers have begun?
As is often the case, I don’t have an answer. I’m just raising the questions.
I predict that patients will ultimately be held to the same standard as other professionals when it comes to disclosure. And this is probably reasonable. With influence comes responsibility.
“My relationship is separate from editorial content and it’s disclosed,” I hear. But even when this is genuinely the case, influence is remarkably complicated.
And if it hasn’t happened already, the issue of patient conflict with pharmaceutical and medical manufacturers should be raised. Patients in positions of influence (and even industry) should consider working to establish a standard beyond the FTC guidelines that all who follow should live by.