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Continued: Minnesota woman campaigns nationally against "pill for every ill”

  • Article by: JIM SPENCER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 1, 2013 - 11:48 PM

“How do you tell me something in plain language, so I can do something with it?” Witczak challenged the doctors. “Let’s not say the experts are at the front of the room. Let’s say the experts are [all over] the room.”

To show what a partnership model can look like, Witczak and Tiefer offered themselves. Tiefer has the academic background and clinical experience to attract professionals. Witczak has the personal narrative to attract everybody else.

They wrote the grand rounds presentation together. Witczak, an ad designer, frequently consulted her notes, which led to pauses. Tiefer crooned along with the confidence of an experienced lecturer and therapist, tossing in humor to drive home points.

“I’m an arrogant SOB, and you’re an ignorant extremist,” Tiefer joked with Witczak, as she explained the danger of stereotypes.

The National Physicians Alliance grand rounds was the women’s first try at a joint presentation. It likely will not be their last.

They handed out a “Call to Action on Disease Mongering.” It urged physicians to sign a petition that demands a “firewall” between industry and government regulators, as well as tighter reins on product testing and advertising.

When they finished, doctors flocked to the podium.

“She’s pointing out a clear problem,” Dr. Charles Mayer, a family physician from Seattle, said of Witczak. “We’re an evidence-based group, and she’s an advocate. But what she said is of benefit.”

Witczak is ready to try it again. “Who knows,” she said as she prepared to return to Minneapolis. “But one thing’s for sure: I’m signing up to work with a presentation coach when I get back.”


Jim Spencer • 202-383-6123

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