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Dr. A. Bernard Ackerman
The Sun and the "Epidemic" of
Melanoma: Myth on Myth!
Despite calling itself an academy, when it comes to the sun the American Academy of Dermatology's (ADD) behavior resembles a conspiracy theorist's rather than that of a measured academic body. That might have something to do with the millions of dollars has received over the years from the sunscreen industry.
The American Academy of Dermatology, for decades, has kept up a drumbeat on behalf of faith in an epidemic of melanoma and rays of the sun as the major cause of it, at the same time that it has flayed, incessantly, the tanning bed industry. Although the organization is termed an Academy, never has it presented in fashion academic a whit of evidence, available readily, contrary to its position entrenched, namely, there is no epidemic of melanoma ... and that tanning beds have not been proven to be a cause direct of melanoma.
To that point, the AAD is currently waging a bruising internal battle over its "Seal of Recognition" program for sunscreen products. The program, which was launched in April 2007, licenses the AAD's seal in exchange for a "contribution" of $10,000, plus an additional $10,000 annual fee. Given its obvious conflicts of interest, many members of the Academy have publically chastised the program as "whorish" and "revolting."
The AAD's pay-for-play scandal..........
Background on the Scandal
Dr. A. Bernard Ackerman, an honorary member of the AAD and a recipient of its prestigious Master Dermatologist award, is a leading opponent of the Seal program, calling it a "shocking conflict of interest." In addition to Dr. Ackerman, more 60 other respected AAD members submitted a petition demanding that the Academy address their concerns at the 2008 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.
After receiving his petition, the AAD's Board agreed to allow Dr. Ackerman to voice his concerns about the Seal program at a special session in February 2008. During the closed-door meeting, Dr. Ackerman was opposed by the Academy's President, Vice President, and the Chairman of the Melanoma/Skin Cancer Committee, which oversees the Seal of Recognition program.
Membership has its Benefits
Paying for the AAD's Seal of Recognition can really pay off. In addition to using the AAD's logo on product packaging, it appears the AAD is willing to send out press releases endorsing a company's products.
For instance, Aveeno's Continuos Protection SPF 55 lotion, which is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, was the first product to pay for the seal. Apparently in exchange for the $30,000 Johnson & Johnson paid for the seal (according to the Academy's fee structure), the AAD put out a press release touting the program and mentioning both of Aveeno's products. Aveeno also put out its own release two months earlier.
Aveeno is of particular interest considering that the AAD's 2007 Vice President Dr. Henry Lim has a financial relationship with Johnson & Johnson.
Doctors Baker, Lim, and Spencer are by no means alone in presenting potentially significant conflicts of interest. The 2008 "Faculty Disclosure" chapter of the Annual Meeting Program book list ten pages of financial relationships between the Academy's faculty and nearly every sunscreen company.
The AAD's staff and officers aren't alone in presenting significant conflicts of interest when it comes to being on the take. The Academy itself has received millions of dollars from sunscreen manufacturers like Neutrogena, Coppertone, and Procter & Gamble.
AAD On the Take
Shockingly, all three AAD representatives defending the program
have ties to companies that manufacture sunscreen products:
Dr. Diane Baker, AAD's 2007 President
Dr. Henry Lim, AAD's 2007 Vice President
Johnson + Johnson
Dr. James Spencer