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[e-drug] Albumin industry launches global promotion

  • From: Kirsten Myhr <myhr@online.no>
  • Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 12:53:58 -0500 (EST)

E-drug: Albumin industry launches global promotion

[Copied under fair use]

BMJ 2000;320:533 (26 February 2000)

Albumin industry launches global promotion
Gavin Yamey , BMJ

The plasma products industry has launched a £1.4m ($2.2m)
international programme to promote albumin despite recent official
advice to restrict its use to very limited indications. Albumin use has
declined substantially following publication of a systematic review by
the Cochrane Group, which raised serious concerns about the
product's use in critically ill patients (BMJ 1998;317:235-40).
One year after publication of the review, the Committee on Safety of
Medicines advised doctors to restrict its use to the treatment of
hypovolaemia (BMJ 1999;318:1643). Internal industry documents
passed to the BMJ outline an "albumin support" programme aimed at
countering the "threats to allowable indications and the competition
from alternative products."The global albumin market was worth £900
000 in 1996. Documents from the Inter-national Plasma Products
Industry Association (IPPIA) and the European Association of the
Plasma Products Industry (EAPPI) outline two kinds of strategy: data
collection and "promotional." The documents show that the
associations have completed their own literature review and compiled
a "Cochrane critique dossier." They have bought a large database to
"identify/provide health economics data that supports use of albumin
both alone and versus substitutes." They have also established a
medical advisory panel. Promotional activities will be "primarily
centred around scientific conferences." The documents acknowledge
the need for a marketing campaign: "Certainly in the US, IPPIA will
have, in comparison with the European program, a strong marketing
component." Other recommendations include creating a website and
holding workshops to develop monographs on fluid resuscitation of
critically ill people. Members of the European Plasma Fractionation
Association (EPFA), another organisation representing the industry,
may be joining the support programme. In a fax to its members dated
16 November 1999, Richard Walker, president of the association,
wrote: "I believe this is a very good program and therefore
recommend EPFA members to participate ... Participation in this
program will be very cost effective with respect to our needs to
support the use of albumin (the financial contribution per member
would be about the same as the EPFA annual membership fee)."Mr
Walker is also the chief executive of Bio Products Laboratory, which is
part of the National Blood Authority, a special NHS health authority.
Asked about the possibility of a conflict of interest between his advice
to EPFA members and his NHS position, he commented: "I don't see a
conflict of interest. At [Bio Products Laboratory] we are supplying
products to meet patient needs. We are very clear that we will only
promote products on the basis of scientific information." His
company, he said, would not be joining the albumin support
programme, although individual EPFA members might still do so. The
agreed funding for the programme includes £1.6m from US
pharmaceutical companies, including Alpha, Baxter, Bayer, and
Centeon (now Aventis Behring). A clinical study in Italy is already
under way, with funding of £87500 from local companies.

Kirsten Myhr, MScPharm, MPH
Bygdøy alle 58B
0265 Oslo, Norway
Tel.: +47 22 56 05 85

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