Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dr Glatter and Dr Samadi - Together in Forbes!

Dr Robert Glatter is a medical doctor who is a regular contributor to Forbes, a huge global print and on line portal for news and opinion.  

He started writing for Forbes in February 2012 and has been contributing on almost a weekly basis.  It was not until December 2013 that he wrote his first piece on prostate cancer entitled "Inflammation Noted In Repeat Prostate Biopsies Linked To Reduced Future Prostate Cancer Risk".  This was actually quite a well written informative piece.

He next wrote about prostate cancer on 7 March 2014.  All of a sudden, prostate cancer has become the flavour of the month with further articles on 6 April 2014, 10 April 2014, 21 April 2014, 4 June 2014 and the most recent piece on 20 September 2014.  

It seems rather odd that there is this sudden interest in prostate cancer.  He does write a lot of articles on other subject matters but the frequency of prostate cancer topics has been disproportionately higher during the course of this year.  This made me wonder as to whether there was some explanation for this.  The most glaringly obvious common binding feature about all of his articles on prostate cancer this year has been the mention of Dr David Samadi.  

Briefly, Dr Samadi is a celebrity urological surgeon who has a program on the Fox Channel called Housecall.  He cites amazing figures for prostate cancer surgery outcomes that defy the academic literature, particularly with his claims of providing a 97% cure rate from prostate cancer. He also earns a great deal of money and was the highest earning doctor in 2012 according to a New York Post investigation stating "The city’s top earner was urologist and prostate-cancer specialist Dr. David ­Samadi, whose 2012 compensation came to $7.6 million."

Okay, back to Dr Glatter.  Who is he?  I have never met him and only discovered him through reading articles on the Forbes website where my friend and colleague Dr Benjamin Davies is also a contributer. The easiest way to start is Google.  The first hit is his work at Forbes.  The second hit is his twitter account.  His bio states the following:- "Emergency Medicine Physician-Lenox Hill Hospital /Media Spokesperson/Forbes Contributor/WebMD Editor/DR 911 housecall practice" and also provides a link to a website.  

Hang on a second - Lenox Hill Hospital?  Isn't this where Dr Samadi does his work?  I don't know the relationship between Dr Glatter and Dr Samadi but if there is any conflict of interest, it should be declared on the Forbes website.  In particular, the fact that Dr Glatter works at Lennox Hill Hospital is not listed anywhere that I can find on the Forbes website. It may be all innocent but in the context of this sudden increase this year in prostate cancer articles, all of which lavishly cite Dr Samadi, raises questions on transparency.

On a final note, the most recent article from 20 September 2014 is a far cry from Dr Glatter's excellent first article on prostate cancer in December 2013 (incidentally, he does not actually mention Dr Samadi at all in this first article).  Not only does he promote the hashtag #samadichallenge but also makes ridiculous comments such as "In case of a positive diagnosis, urge men to seek Treatment immediately" - this demonstrates a lack of insight of the biology and natural history of prostate cancer.  It goes totally against the direction taken by leading urologists which is to be less aggressive in treating clinically significant prostate cancer.

Statements like "Symptoms of prostate cancer may include changes in urinary function including a burning sensation, blood in the urine or semen, frequent urination, as well as a weak or interrupted flow" only create fear and alarm amongst men with urinary symptoms.  It is uncommon for prostate cancer to cause urinary symptoms when clinically localised - any clinician would know that it is the non-cancerous condition of the prostate called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) that causes the symptoms.  It is these symptoms that lead men to get checked by their doctors who then serendipitously diagnose their cancers.  It is not a cause effect relationship.

The hashtag #samadichallenge with a doctors name in it? Is the aim to achieve awareness about the doctor or about prostate cancer? I am happy to be instructed on this. 

And Dr Glatter, is there any relationship of any sort between yourself and Dr Samadi? If so, be transparent and declare.  If not, state that to be the case.  It is hard otherwise to not be suspicious about the sudden interest in prostate cancer articles where Dr Samadi comes across to me as being featured expert in each of them..

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