Saturday, November 14, 2009

S.T.A.R.'s first Open Doors discussion on Diversity and Community a huge success

I had the pleasure of attending Open Doors on Thursday night at the Shenandoah Club in downtown Roanoke. The free event, an open discussion on diversity and community held by S.T.A.R., the Spirit of Tolerance & Art in the Region, was an opportunity for Roanokers to talk about what it means to live in our increasingly diverse region.

The discussion was hosted by S.T.A.R. co-founders Rev. Joe Cobb of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge and Jane Rorrer, Coordinator of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives at Va. Tech's Graduate School.

It was a great discussion attended by a cross section of people from the area. Roanoke Vice-Mayor Dr. David Trinkle and Local Colors Executive Director Peal Fu were in attendance. I had a the chance to talk to both of them afterward. With leaders like these in our community, there may be hope for us yet.

I was asked to do a story for Star City Harbinger, which you can read here.

For the full schedule of upcoming S.T.A.R. events and information about the next two Open Doors discussions, visit the S.T.A.R. site here.
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  1. "With leaders like theses"

    ...who needs enemies.

    Try doing a search at for David Trinkle and Eli Lilly.

  2. Good point, Mark. There does need to be more transparency in the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and physicians, especially when there is money changing hands.

    However, I was impressed that Dr. Trinkle, who is also the Vice-Mayor of Roanoke, was taking part in the Open Doors discussion. It indicates to me that there is at least one progressive leader in town that actually gives a crap about the concerns of minorities, including the LGBT community.

    I believe in giving credit where is due, but also in holding someone accountable when they've crossed a legal or ethical line.

    The article didn't give enough specifics about the subject matter Dr. Trinkle was lecturing about nor did it allege that he was advocating the use of a particular Eli Lilly drug. In fact it didn't say that he had done anything wrong in particular, just that Eli Lilly paid him to give lectures.

    If there is something more substantial to report on, I trust the Roanoke Times will do a follow up. The Trinkle family has a long history of liberal politics and public service. I'd hate to see something like this screw it up.

  3. "If there is something more substantial to report on, I trust the Roanoke Times will do a follow up."

    More substantial?

    Were Trinkles's lectures about Zyprexa? I don't know. Would you want your doctor or political representative taking money from the likes of Eli Lilly (or any pharmaceutical company)? I hope not.

  4. Mark,

    First, I want to thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I want to hear from my readers. All feedback is appreciated.

    I do want to point out that it is not uncommon for drug companies to hire local doctors when they promote their products, especially if that doctor is a specialist in the field that your drug is intended to treat. It helps to have a familiar face talk about your product. These lectures generally are intended to address what the drugs benefits and side effects are, when its use in indicated and when it is not. And, yes, the lecturers are compensated for their time.

    Two of the articles you pointed out showed instances where Eli Lilly and the doctors involved crossed the ethical line. Doctors are not supposed to be paid to exclusively prescribe one drug or another for a particular treatment. They are ethically bound to follow the best course of action in treating the patient.

    It is also common for local newspapers to try to find a local angle on a national story. I do it too. But none of the articles specifically said the Eli Lilly or Dr. Trinkle did anything wrong in Roanoke or at Carilion. It would be irresponsible of me to assume that they did, when there is no evidence to the contrary.

    I'll make a deal with you. If it turns out that Dr. Trinkle violated his professional ethics or that Lilly has been engaging in "medical payola" in Roanoke, I'll report it here.

    Meanwhile, we do have a LGBT-friendly Vice-Mayor in city hall in the person of Dr. David Trinkle, and I find that both encouraging and exciting.


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