Who is the European Atherosclerosis Society? What do they do?

The 2013 and 2014 EAS reports had large pharma footprints. Amgen, Aegerion, … etc. The data had already been roughed up in the 2012 Danish and 2014 Dutch reports. Through citation kiting the confusion is compounded and it takes some historical digging in order to recognize that the threads between publications aren’t really tied together.  Once the work is put in, however, the issue is not fuzzy or questionable. There is a clear, bright line with undeniable boundaries: a claim of a reality is set to a historical record and it is contradicted by that very reality – a subsequent chapter in that historical record.

When journals collaborate with goals common to commercial enterprises, how are they different from serving as de facto marketing divisions? Having “common goals” and “mutual strategies” with “corporate partners” is a collaboration between financially interested parties, not a collaboration whose definition of “scientific” depends upon real independence. EAS sounds and behaves like a publication-strategy organization. Also, these are not insulated … independent publications whose teams are unaffiliated with one another. These are repeat-authors, with repeat-funders.

EAS: Corporate Sponsors, European Atherosclerosis Society
EAS Corporate Partnership with Amgen

As I have demonstrated, the EAS material is distorted through the simple mechanism of citation kiting. This involves coordination among authors shared across publications and organizations: there are authors on both the Dutch and Danish reports, the “sources,” who are needles that run through and stitch both sets of publications — the source material and the EAS consensus papers — with the wrong names and numbers. Facts are switched from paper to paper, not passed on. On the right are the two “relay teams” that “switch the baton” instead of passing it on fairly.

Publication strategy services and “relay teams”

Translational Medicine Academy

Many members of the 2013 and 2014 EAS consensus panels of experts have apparently followed on with Translational Medicine Academy (TMA), a group which, among other questionable services, advertises help with publication strategy formation and development of Key Opinion Leaders. Many of these EAS “panel experts” appear to be scientists for hire. Amgen is a TMA partner. TMA advertises that they will help such organizations form consensus reports.  On the TMA website John Chapman is advertised, and his bio lists him as EAS president during the time period of the 2013 and 2014 consensus reports. In fact, according to the bio he “spearheaded the EAS Consensus Panel initiatives,” and “these publications achieved wide visibility.” Indeed, according to the EAS reports themselves he was an organizer, along with Dr. Ginsberg. Archive.org shows him as president of EAS in 2012. So, here he is with TMA. What service is being advertised? What is Dr. John Chapman’s role here?  Is it different from his role in EAS? Below: Services TMA advertises include, “Expert Symposia” … “Expert Statements/Position Papers.”   And that’s what Dr. Chapman did for EAS. This suggests a marketing service insulated by the prestige and assumed legal protection that comes with recruiting and presenting Key Opinion leaders … peers and experts.

Are independent scientists a problem? TMA advertises its marketing services as a solution to a problem which is in large part inherent in the independenceof scientists: “Traditionally, medical research has been compartmentalized.” A scientist seeking an independent conclusion will “compartmentalize” his efforts and analyses … seeking separation from other scientists and especially from prevailing dogma. That’s science. Bringing everyone together to get a product to the market is a commercial effort, even if that product ultimately benefits patients.  TMA will be the ones to bring it all together, “Free of the red tape and hierarchies that can hamper agencies and international organizations, TMA is well positioned to bring together stakeholders to work towards filling knowledge gaps and overcoming hurdles to improved clinical care.”  This puts organizations like TMA in the central role … a sort of master key for all the different doors to the different departments within a given drug-venture. But this is also tantamount to taking responsibility for the integrity of the information that its paid team members “bring together” for the rest of us

“TMA develops these programs with key opinion leaders working in specific medical fields and with experts in medical practice and research, with a view to finding solutions within the translational medicine paradigm and deliver them to patients.” 

Translating medical technology into sales is called “commercialization.” But translating a discovered medical treatment into clinical practice involves sales to patients. It’s called, “Translational Medicine.”  Call each what you will, whichever one you shine a light on, the other is the shadow you will see. Now, many of the EAS “relay team” are here with TMA:

translational medicine academy, The European Atherosclerosis Society

I’ll step back here. TMA is so over-the-top that I do question whether or not some claims are real. Why is the TMA U.S. address listed online as a nail salon?

How much of TMA is real? However, if the website does represent Dr. Chapman’s and others’ participation accurately, it suggests a willingness of these EAS authors to profit from corporate needs by trading in their scientific reputations.

Is it only a quibble to comment on the phrase, “The TMA uses Evidence Building, Education, and Advocacy Programs to address these needs” …? First, a scientist does not build evidence, but finds it. Second, will we be educating doctors or misleading them if we recruit personnel with histories of citation kiting? And whose interests are really advocated in an “advocacy program” which is touted in a solicitation for corporate funding? 

According to TMA, Amgen is a “Partner.”

Within the FDA, Amgen uses the EAS report to claim the increased prevalence estimate.  On the right, Amgen is a partner with TMA.  The two organizations, EAS and TMA, ally their publication efforts with Pharma’s commercial goals. Citation kiting in the 2013 and 2014 EAS reports is indisputable, and the consequences are hazardous. Many of the same authors on the EAS report are advertised on TMA’s website.  This illustrates in broad strokes an unhealthy alliance between commercial Pharma and Academia.

Evolocumab, Heterozygous Familial hypercholesterolemia, Amgen

Here are more gems from TMA:

“Key Opinion Leader Development: … Developing a dissemination plan to cascade messages through the influence pyramid”

“We are looking for authors in translational medicine. Interested in contributing? Do not hesitate to contact us or to send us any article that you would like to disseminate world wide.

Last note on these authors and Pharma partners: These conflicts of interest are not limited to the EAS or TMA.  Looking for a publication strategist? Let’s not forget the individual participant, Jane Stock — a for-hire Medical Writing Consultant who worked on many EAS projects, including the 2013 and 2014 EAS reports.  On linkedin.com her job description reads, “All aspects of writing; working with KOLs on peer-review manuscripts and advisory and boards, and strategic publication planning are specialties.”  This advertisement is for services greater than just technical writing.