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PharmedOut is a group aimed at helping doctors "to identify and counter inappropriate pharmaceutical promotion practices."[1]


PharmedOut is a project of Georgetown University Medical Center located in Washington, DC and it's run by physicians. Its goals are:

  • Document and disseminate information about how pharmaceutical companies influence the prescribing of drugs.
  • Foster access to unbiased information about drugs.
  • Encourage physicians to choose continuing medical education courses free of pharmaceutical company influence.[2]

Pharmaceutical company influence on doctors

Most states require doctors to engage in continuing medical education (CME) to remain up-to-date in their fields. The Washington Post writes, that for doctors, the continuing education credits required to renew a medical license "are a way to bone up on the latest clinical developments while chowing down at some of the country's finest restaurants. For drug companies, which provide much of the more than $1.7 billion spent annually on these dinner meetings and conferences, they are an opportunity to help educate physicians who must remain up-to-date in a rapidly changing field.

"But some doctors have complained that industry sponsorship of medical education creates an inherent conflict of interest for physicians at the expense of patients who risk being prescribed drugs they may not need or cannot afford. "If you're a doctor, you can refuse to see drug reps in your office, but you can't avoid CMEs," said physician Adriane Fugh-Berman, a longtime critic of industry funding of continuing medical education programs. While these courses appear impartial, said Fugh-Berman, an associate professor in the department of physiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, they can be an integral but largely unscrutinized part of a covert marketing campaign to convince doctors that a disease or condition is pervasive, under-diagnosed and best treated by writing a prescription."[3]


The project has received a grant from $430 million paid by Warner-Lambert, a division of Pfizer, as part of a settlement of a case taken by state attorney-generals' over a marketing campaign for the drug Neurontin. The drug was marketed in violation of state consumer protection laws.


Contact details

Georgetown University
Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Box 571460
Washington, DC 20057-1460
Phone: 202-687-1191
Fax: 202-687-7407

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Website, PharmedOut, accessed January 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 About page, PharmedOut, accessed November 2010.
  3. Sandra G. Boodman, "Hold the Hors d'Oeuvres: Program Helps Doctors Stay Current Without Accepting Drugmakers' Meals", The Washington Post, January 23, 2007.

External resources