AAFP Threatens Legal Action Against Virginia Family Doctor

A family doctor in southern Virginia has drawn the ire of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Dr. Douglas Farrago

Lawyers at the AAFP last week sent a letter to Dr. Douglas Farrago threatening legal action against the doctor unless he stopped using the AAFP logo on his blog postings.

Dr. Farrago portrays the AAFP as a tool of the government, the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry.

In a recent blog posting, Dr. Farrago mocked the upcoming AAFP Family Physician Health and Well-Being Conference in Naples, Florida.

“At this conference, you will come together with other family physicians to realize how shitty the job is,” Dr. Farrago wrote. “You will hear experts from across the country engage on the subject of well-being, though none of them have ever practiced medicine – and you will see solutions for improved professional satisfaction and better patient care within a broken system –  all of which are unproven and are just a fantasy.”

Dr. Farrago illustrated the blog with the AAFP logo.

A few days later, Dr. Farrago received a letter in the mail from AAFP associate general counsel Lisa Westergaard asking that Dr. Farrago take down the logo.

Westergaard said that while AAFP understood that the posting itself was a parody of the upcoming conference, “and we recognize your right to create and display such a parody,” the trademarked AAFP logo itself “is not being parodied, but used in its entirety.”

“Therefore we demand that you immediately remove the Mark from the Blog Post and cease and desist from further use of the Mark,” Westergaard wrote. “If you do not do so, we reserve the right to pursue all appropriate legal and other remedies against you without further notice.”

“Really?” Dr. Farrago wrote back to Westergaard. “My lawyer says otherwise but I will take the AAFP image down.  I will share your letter with the world, however, via social media.  That is if you don’t mind? Tell whoever is afraid of me at the AAFP that I said hello.”

“I have ten days to take that part of the image down so feel free to read that blog entry before I do,” Dr. Farrago told his readers. “I have used their logo before in mocking them so I am not sure what got them irked about this one. Could it be that this parody pissed the wrong people off at the AAFP?  Could it be that they aren’t so happy being called out on their bullsh%t.”

“Hope this makes your day, everyone.  Be careful not to make fun of the wrong people or they may just take legal action against you. That is unless you are Big Pharma, an insurer or the government.”

In his speeches and writing, Dr. Farrago has not been kind to the AAFP – portraying the physicians group as attached at the hip to the powerful triumvirate of government, insurance industry and Big Pharma.

The AAFP Foundation is heavily funded by large multinational companies, including Sanofi, Monsanto, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Lilly, Merck, Purdue Pharma – and the pharmaceutical industry trade group – PhRMA.

In a speech last year to the Direct Primary Care conference, Dr. Farrago was unrelenting.

“If the AAFP were the Titanic, it would back itself up repeatedly to hit the iceberg repeatedly to generate more data,” Dr. Farrago said. “Then it would come back to us and say – we’re going to have to work with that iceberg.”

“Why do they do this?” he asked.

“They see us – the members – as steerage at the bottom of the boat and behind the gate,” Dr. Farrago said. “They are up on the parlor deck with brandy and a cigar playing cards.”


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