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August 07, 2007

Conference: Dangerous Liaisons? Industry Relations with Health Professionals

The Institute for Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina is hosting the 14th Annual Pitts Memorial Lectureship, entitled Dangerous Liaisons? Industry Relations with Health Professionals, on September 7 & 8, 2007.

The conference agenda is available here, and the list of faculty presenters is available here.  I am particularly impressed with the broad representation of the speakers, including Paul Antony of PhRMA, Sigrid Fry-Revere of the Cato Institute, and Howard Brody of the Institute for the Medical Humanities (my graduate program).

Because conflicts-of-interest among industry, physicians, and investigators has become such a 'hot' area in bioethics and health policy, I have at times been dismayed with presentations that do not seem to include speakers representing the diversity of views on the issues.  This conference includes a number of presenters with divergent views, and the variety of opinions is reflected in the conference structure, which places two speakers articulating opposing positions into each session, with time set aside for audience participation.

Would that more conferences were set up in such ways.  As I learned when practicing law, oral advocay is far more effective when the speaker directly engages ("clashes," in the jargon) the opposing views.  While I do not think the adversarial model is necessarily appropriate for academic conferences, the ideal of the Erasmian sermo is hardly satisfied, IMO, by sounding one's views only with interlocutors who already concur.


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