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.