Grand Rounds Nov 2012

National Physicians Alliance On-line Webcast


Selling Drugs: Pharma’s Evolving Strategies

This event was held in conjunction with the
NPA 7th Annual Conference
Leading the Way: the Next Chapter in America’s Health
at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town in Alexandria, VA.


Moderator – Welcome & Introductions

  • Shannon Brownlee, MS, Acting Director, Health Policy Program, New America Foundation


  • Michael Oldani, PhD, MS, Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and Director of the Family and Health Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin
  • Wells Wilkinson, JD, Project Director, Prescription Access Litigation at Community Catalyst
  • Jeff Chester, MSW, Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy

Panelist Bios

Shannon Brownlee, MS, serves as the acting director of the New America Foundation Health Policy Program, in Washington, DC, and an instructor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. A nationally known writer and essayist, her work has appeared in The Atlantic, BMJ, New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New Republic, Slate, Time, Washington Monthly, Washington Post, and many other publications. Her book, Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, published in 2007, was named the best economics book of the year by New York Times economics correspondent, David Leonhardt. She holds a master’s degree in Marine Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz, which awarded her with the Alumnae Achievement Award of 2012. Brownlee is married with one son. She lives in Washington, DC, and is currently working on a book profiling three revolutionary physicians who are changing the face of medicine.

Jeff Chester is the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), a Washington, D.C. non-profit. CDD’s mission is to foster democratic expression and consumer protection in the digital media era. His book, Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy provides an in-depth examination on the threats to the public interest from both old and new media consolidation. Bill Moyers has called Chester the “Paul Revere” of the media reform movement. A former investigative reporter and filmmaker, Chester has been engaged in public interest policy advocacy for more than three decades. In the 1980s, he helped direct the successful campaign to establish the Independent Television Service (ITVS) for public TV. In the 1990’s, he co-founded the Center for Media Education, spearheading a effort that led to passage of the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and rules requiring children’s educational programming for broadcasting. In 1996, Newsweek magazine named Jeff Chester one of the Internet’s fifty most influential people. He was named a Stern Foundation “Public Interest Pioneer” in 2001. Jeff played a key role in organizing the grassroots opposition to the FCC’s proposed media ownership rules in 2003. Under his leadership, CDD has pressed the FTC and other policymakers to address how new digital marketing practices threaten privacy and consumer welfare. He has been a author of a series of reports exposing threats from online marketing, including practices involving finance, health, and children. He was named the 2011 “Domestic Privacy Champion” by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Michael Oldani’s, ethnographic work has critically examined the impact of modern pharmaceuticals on medical practice, in particular psychiatry; on family dynamics; and on notions of personhood and ‘the self’. Recent publications have specifically assessed the sales and marketing activities of multinational pharmaceutical companies; documented and theorized the racialized prescribing of stimulant medication for children amongst Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in Canada; and, explored the ethical implications of incentivized models (i.e., bonus pay for physicians) of treatment compliance for both doctors and patients. He has published articles in Medical Anthropology Quarterly; Transcultural Psychiatry and Anthropology and Medicine. He currently is working on his first ethnographic book, ‘Tales from the Script: An Ethnography of Pharmaceutical Prescribing’, that will be published through Duke University Press.

Wells G. Wilkinson, J.D., is the Director of the Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) project at Community Catalyst. This his efforts, PAL fosters the involvement of a nationwide coalition of over 135 union, consumer, senior, and advocacy groups in class-action litigation or advocacy to confront illegal or deceptive drug industry practices that drive up prices and reduce access to needed medicines. PAL is a project of Community Catalyst, a national consumer advocacy organization working with community-based advocates in 40 states, and with expertise in the impact of prescription drug marketing upon consumers and health quality. Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Wilkinson spent several years conducting biochemistry research, followed by a decade organizing volunteer-led grassroots campaigns for healthcare and campaign finance reform. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Boston University, and his law degree from the New England School of Law.


This event is offered as part of the Partnership to Advance Conflict-free Medical Education. This partnership and related materials were made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program which is funded by the multi-state settlement of consumer fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin.