The huge auditorium at the McCormick Place Convention Center was packed to the rafters. It was standing room only in the 45-hundred seat theater, although the fire department wouldn't let people stand. The doctors, scientists, and educators at the American Diabetes Association's Annual Meetingcame to see the rock stars of their world--Dr. Steven Nissen who wrote the controversial New England Journal of Medicine report questioning the safety of GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia and Dr. Phillip Home who wrote--also in NEJM--the subsequent interim analysis of a GSK sponsored study that, so far, supports Avandia's safety.
Because of the predicament the conflicting reports have put doctors in, the ADA added this symposium to the convention program at nearly the last minute. Drs. Home and Nissen were the main attraction, but the ADA put three other prominent diabetes doctors on the dais to participate in a follow-up panel discussion. The ADA had its own TV cameras in the auditorium to project the speakers and their Power Point presentations onto big screens, but it did not do a live webcast of the event or allow our camera--or anyone else's--into the room.
The ADA told my producer, Ruth, that it will take two days to make the event available via the web. While much of the discussion would be Greek to the layman, it seems to me that given the patient fears the situation has created that it would be a public health service to disseminate the event as widely and as freely as possible.
The symposium started with the moderator ticking off the long list of disclosures about relationships with drug companies for each of the docs. The recitation took so long that people in the audience started to laugh. At which point the moderator interrupted himself to remind the crowd that many of them probably have even more disclosures to make than those sitting on the dais. That also drew laughs.
But then they got down to the serious business at hand. Dr. Nissen went first. He began with a bit of an apology: "I know I've made life more difficult for you over the past few months," he said. "Let me tell you why." And then he proceeded to give the backstory of his Avandia analysis.
Ahead of the panel discussion I interviewed him live on the "Closing Bell". You can watch it here: