March 1998

A Force to Endorse

By Michael J. Katin, MD

This column has now been running for well over one year and there has been some evidence that it has actually been read. This may be wishful thinking, but with the possibility that persons other than me and the webmaster are looking at this material, there is incentive to produce constructive thoughts rather than the usual critical comments. This will be the goal for the next several columns, at least until a better idea comes along.

The financing of research continues to be a problem although President Clinton has recently endorsed increased funding for the National Cancer Institute. However, only recently we received a request for a donation to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, and unless we want to start forking out money ourselves or paying Sally Struthers to film advertisements, other sources need to be found to support the programs that we consider valuable.

The American Medical Association had gotten into trouble by endorsing Sunbeam appliances, but I would see nothing wrong with radiation oncology organizations receiving money for endorsing products that we actually use. For example, how much would a company pay to have its product labelled as "The official bolus material of the RTOG?" Manufacturers of all the peripheral items that we use every day would scramble to get this type of designation. In exchange, most of us would feel biased toward purchasing the official cerrobend melting container of ASTRO, the official afterloading catheter of the American Brachytherapy Society, or the official microdosimetry system of the RSNA.

This would only be a warm-up to the really big ticket items, which would eliminate any problems with funding radiation oncology research for the next 50 years. Most bowl games don't even bother to identify the location of the game anymore--who can tell where the Outback Bowl is played? Similarly, the annual meeting of the American Radium Society could be sponsored and change its name to the Salagen Session. I'm sure the readers can come up with many more examples.

All this would be dwarfed by the biggest big ticket item of them all, selling the right to brand a product name onto one's consciousness forever and to flaunt the name for years to come every time an application for licensure or credentialing is filled out: certified by the Varian Board of Radiology.

email: mkatin@radiotherapy.com