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January 18, 2007

Pills, politics and the public trust: U-M event will explore pharmaceutical industry issues

ANN ARBOR, MI – The pharmaceutical industry is one of America’s favorite punching bags, with polls showing declining trust in the companies that make our medicines, and the media full of negative stories and depictions.

PillsFrom Vioxx lawsuits to the battle over Medicare prescription drug prices, drug manufacturers often find themselves on the defensive, adding to an existing public perception of a “big, bad” industry.

What are these perceptions based on? Are they realistic or unfair? And what are the consequences — for the pharmaceutical industry and for health care in general — when there is an erosion of public confidence in drug companies, or a lack of trust that they will behave ethically?

A free public event on Friday, Feb. 16 at the University of Michigan will explore these questions, and more.

Called “Pills, Politics, and Public Trust: Ethical Crossroads and the Pharmaceutical Industry,” the two-hour event will begin at noon at the Ford Amphitheater on the second floor of the main University Hospital, at 1500 E. Medical Center Drive. It is being presented by the U-M Medical School’s Forum on Health Policy.

The event will feature a panel of experts from the pharmaceutical, regulatory, public advocacy and media spheres. They will include David Canter, the senior vice president of Pfizer Global Research and Development and site director of the company’s Michigan laboratories; Philip Hilts, author of “Protecting America's Health: The FDA, Business, and 100 Years of Regulation” and former health and science reporter for The New York Times; Peter Lurie, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director of the Health Research Group in the consumer-advocacy group Public Citizen; and Daniel Troy, J.D., chief counsel of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration from 2001 to 2004.

The event will be introduced and moderated by U-M psychologist Henry Greenspan, Ph.D. A question-and-answer session will be moderated by Duane Kirking, Pharm.D., Ph.D., professor in the U-M College of Pharmacy and Director of the U-M Center for Medication Use, Policy & Economics.

For more information on the event, visit, call 734-994-0727, or e-mail Parking is available in the U-M hospital parking garages or at the valet parking stand at the main hospital entrance.

This program is co-sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Michigan and, at U-M, by the Ethics in Public Life Initiative, the LSA Citizenship Theme Year, the Vice President for Communications, the Department of Internal Medicine, the Program in Society and Medicine, the College of Pharmacy, the Ford School of Public Policy, the Health Policy Students Association, and the School of Public Health.

Written by Kara Gavin

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