Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blogging the ACC: A Note from the Unwashed

Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned...

I was a speaker for Medtronic a while back, I'm not sure when. I was paid a fee to do this, but I can't recall exactly how much. (No doubt Senator Grassley knows by now.) I'm not even sure if my contract with Medtronic is still in effect, but I disclosed that former relationship to the American College of Cardiology before their upcoming meeting since I am blogging the conference this year.

And I was shunned.

Oh sure, they paid my registration fee - that was the original agreement (my "pay" if you will) - but because of my unwashed status as a former speaker for a company, there will be no coffee and donuts, no access to cell phone rechargers, no sit-down laptop computer space, and no early access to press releases and interviews with investigators.


It seems no press pass can be issued to people with my unwashed status. Also, I cannot blog about anything having to do with Medtronic.

So there you have it. I've come clean. Full transparency. Out in the open. (FTC, you listening?)

But I'm not worried.

In a way, it's liberating to be excluded from the press room and the pre-market pre-announcement hype. Instead, I will be on the outside watching the proceedings from where I should be watching them from anyway: from the clinical doctor's perspective.

And that, as they say, will either be my downfall or my redemption.




Unknown said...

I am completely astonished, Wes. The vast majority of those in the press room receive support, often quite directly, from industry. Maybe you got it wrong and what they're really trying to do is protect you from the journo-whores?

ADSokol said...

Dear Dr. Wes,

We are thrilled to have you here at ACC.10. I wish you would have discussed this with us instead of using your blog to communicate your displeasure. There has indeed been a misunderstanding. I would be happy to discuss our policies with you directly and will engage you privately to discuss.

Again, we are pleased you are here and looking forward to a terrific meeting.

Alicia Sokol, Director of Corporate Communications

DrWes said...


This post was to serve as my required disclosure regarding my conflicts of interest that I must, per the FTC, disclose. It highlights the challenges bloggers have relative to conventional mainstream media regarding disclosures (would someone from Fox, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, WSJ care to comment?) and really was not meant to denigrate the ACC, but rather brings this important issue to the forefront before the meeting starts.

As I save stated, I'm okay with the current rules. But if I didn't mention this, I'd risk sounding like an industry shill.

It's GOING to be a great meeting. I hope this is no way diminishes my respect for what the ACC does for cardiologists nor the relevance of physician bloggers to maintain the highest standard of reporting for our readers.

Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

All hail the blog!

Seriously, it is amazing to see this conversation in the comments section.

Looking forward to Dr Wes's news from the meetings, which will give the kind of perspective that other media outlets may not have - that of a practicing clinician.