A commenter gently cautioned me against the ad hominem fallacy in my recent blog post on this topic. He wrote: “I just wanted to state the point of view that although AMSA may not be the best practitioner of its message that should not take away from the validity of the message.” Regular readers of this blog know my view of the message, which is about the relationship between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. While I agree partially with their concerns I think the position of PharmFree and organizations like No Free Lunch is extreme. I have expressed a more moderate view in the pages of this blog, filed under the Medicine and Public Debate category.
Although the commenter correctly points out that PharmFree should be judged on its own merits, he may have missed my larger point. The AMSA seems to be claiming the moral high ground in matters of ethics, evidence and doing what’s best for patients. But the claim is baseless when they actively promote bogus (and in my opinion fraudulent) health claims. Moreover, they accuse the profession of engaging in conflicts of interest when they themselves accept money in return for distributing promotional material from an organization which advocates shamanism, ritual healing and New Age fluff. So, it kind of ruffles my feathers when they point the accusing finger and besmirch the ethics of the medical profession. This inconsistency also begs the question of motivation: what is the real agenda of PharmFree?