It is an interesting time in medicine.
If we step back a few thousand feet and look down on America's medical world, we see a mess. We see rules and regulations run amok. We see doctors under unprecedented pressure to click rather than to care. We see government websites built with the promise of access to health care, collapsing under its own weight. We see politicians promising one thing, then delivering another. Then we see them give exceptions to some or outright lying to others. Then we see them get cozy with the insurance lobby after they're caught red-handed in hopes of making a "fix."
We, the lowly patients and doctors in this political power game, turn our heads in disgust as we struggle to help people live (literally) another day.
US medicine is now all about power and money. As such, medicine is now more about a political vision rather than reality. Politics, after all, is all about sales: selling a vision to stay elected and to stay in charge.
So where better to turn to promote your political sales job than WebMD (and their subsidiaries like Medscape and theheart.org), that "trusted" purveyor of all things medical? It seems WebMD and its MedScape affiliates like theheart.org have quietly accepted a $4.8 million grant to promote the Affordable Care Act and have refused to disclose this little factoid to doctors and their readers.
There does not need to be a Sunshine law for politicians and medical content providers these days, only doctors.
But it doesn't stop there. Ironically, shortly after this disclosure by the Washington Times, an article entitled "Conflicts of Interest: Concepts, Conundrums, and Course of Action" appeared on theheart.org/Medscape Cardiology's website. (Update: this morning there's an article on the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, too!) As I tried to read this article I laughed as I clicked through a Brilinta ad and was subject to Bystolic and Belviq ads in Medscape's sidebar.
Here's a real "course of action" I'd suggest to doctors bothered by the double-standard of disclosure imposed on us from our political class: dump the Medscape app on your cellphone, give a little shout-out to theheart.org, er, Medscape Cardiology, and ask why they haven't said anything.
Then cancel anything related to WebMD.
Then, at least, we'd be sure we're getting past the political propaganda and back to medicine.
h/t: A faithful reader.
Addendum 16 Nov 2013 @ 12:20 PM CST: It seems WebMD felt compelled to release this press release regarding their editorial integrity, but it did not reference the above conflict disclosed here specifically.