Ethics

US Energy Department Attacks Whistleblowers

The Project on Government Oversight has issued a report on reprisals and retaliation against whistleblowers at the U.S. Department of Energy. "Retaliation at DOE does not necessarily entail attempting to fire federal employees," it states. "In the majority of cases in the security area, DOE supervisors attempt to revoke the whistleblower's clearance on trumped-up charges. Then they remove them from any responsibility for oversight of security. On the other hand, contractors often lose their contracts, or their jobs, for blowing the whistle. ...

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TV Morning Shows Called "Sophisticated Infomercials"

Katie Couric of "Today," Diane Sawyer of "Good Morning America," and Bryant Gumbel of "The Early Show" are three of the nation's biggest media stars. But are they journalists or glorified hawkers? According to a report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which studied the three network morning shows for two weeks in June and two weeks in October, these programs spend an awful lot of time selling things to the public. ... Even given some slight moderation after the Sept. 11 attacks, the report suggested that the shows were becoming a "kind of sophisticated infomercial."

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Dirty Tricks for the Pharmaceutical Industry in Australia

An Australian public relations company working for the pharmaceutical industry has been accused of running a secretive dirty tricks campaign to discredit an industry critic. Sydney-based Susan Andrews Communications Group, which helped promote arthritis pill Celebrex for Pfizer and Pharmacia, was named in last week's Medical Observer magazine as the source of leaked documents attempting to smear former Government drug adviser Professor David Henry.

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Pharma Buys a Conscience

"The pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries are funneling more and more cash into the pockets of academics who teach and study ethics," observes philosophy professor Carl Elliott, who works at a bioethics center. "Bioethicists have written for years about conflicts of interest in scientific research or patient care yet have paid little attention to the ones that might compromise bioethics itself," he notes, pointing to several cases in which companies like Eli Lilly have used funding to pressure ethicists into censoring or changing their views.

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Journalism for Hire?

The National Association of Science Writers (NASW) is debating the ethics of a job advertisement sent to its members from Chicco Chandler, a PR firm that "works exclusively with the pharmaceutical/biotech industry" and boasts of past involvement in PR for Viagra, Celebrex and Zoloft, with clients including Agouron, Amgen, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Novo Nordisk and Pfizer.

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Nature Takes a Step in the Right Direction

Nature, England's leading scientific journal, has announced a new policy. Beginning in October, it will "be encouraging authors to declare any competing financial interests in relation to research papers." This is "a welcome and probably inevitable decision," reports the Guardian of London, noting that science has become "intimately linked with industry. ...

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