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UC Davis Responds to Our Story on One of its Doctors

The University of California, Davis has responded to our December 23 article about two physicians, one of whom, Dr. Scott Fishman, is a member of its staff.

The University of California, Davis has responded to our December 23 article about two physicians, one of whom, Dr. Scott Fishman, is a member of its staff. The article accompanied a larger piece on the American Pain Foundation, which describes itself as the nation's largest advocacy group for pain patients. The Foundation collected nearly 90 percent of its $5 million funding in 2010 from the drug and medical-device industry – and closely mirrors its positions, our examination found. Fishman was, until recently, the president and chairman of the Foundation. The article on the Foundation, and the piece concerning Fishman, were accompanied by an extensive statement from Fishman.

The new statement from UC Davis concludes that the story concerning Fishman is “inaccurate” but does not indicate how or why. A letter dated Jan. 9 from Fishman to ProPublica editor-in-chief Paul Steiger and managing editor Stephen Engelberg is linked from the UC Davis statement, and has been posted on the University’s site. Given this, we are also now posting Steiger and Engelberg’s Jan. 11 response to Fishman, noting that the article concerning him was “scrupulously” fair and “strictly factual.” [One note: The Jan. 11 response indicates that a UC Davis Health System home study course, co-taught by Fishman, listed him as having “financial interest or affiliation” with pharmaceutical companies Cephalon, Endo, Janssen, Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer and Purdue. The site indicated it had last been updated June 21, 2011. After the Jan. 11 letter was emailed, the disclosure was removed, and the UC Davis site now says that Fishman has “no financial interest/affiliation.” Despite having been updated this month, the site, at this writing, still indicates that it was last updated in June.]

Mike Webb

Mike Webb was the vice president/communications of ProPublica. He is a veteran communications specialist with experience in public relations, marketing, sales and campaign work at media companies, think tanks, political organizations and in the entertainment business.

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