Health

Druggie Films

The pharmaceutical industry has begun to discuss the idea of product placements in movies to create interest in its drugs. "I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a disproportionately important avenue for building brand awareness for drugs within the next five years - because it gets people when they are engaged," says Simon Williams, president and CEO of the Sterling Group, a New York-based brand consultant.

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Trading Places

"Two senior United States trade negotiators who sealed the trade deal with Australia have accepted plum jobs representing U.S. medical and drug companies," reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Ralph Ives, the current U.S. trade representative for pharmaceutical policy, will become the industry group AdvaMed's vice-president for global strategy. Claude Burcky, head U.S.

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Big Money, Bad Medicine

"It's been pretty well established that publication bias is associated with industry funding," says Brown University epidemiologist Kay Dickersin, about drug companies squashing unfavorable research results. Yet the "overwhelming majority" of drug researchers receive industry funding, according to Canadian clinical pharmacist Muhammad Mamdani.

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Pennsylvania Boots a Whistleblower

"A whistleblower who uncovered evidence that major drug companies sought to influence government officials has been removed from his job and placed on administrative leave," reports Jeanne Lenzer. "Allen Jones, an investigator at the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General (OIG), was escorted out of his workplace on 28 April and told 'not to appear on OIG property' after OIG officials accused him of talking to the press. ...

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Drink Up

A grand jury report on groundwater contamination in Escambia County, Florida, has been released charging that local, state and federal agencies responsible for protecting the environment and public health all failed to inform the public about industrial contamination of the county's water supply, with the Conoco oil company among the area's leading polluters.

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Big Pharma's Poison Pill

The British medical journal The Lancet published a review of "six published and six unpublished trials" studying antidepressant use by children that concluded that, in most cases, "the risks exceeded the benefits." More disturbingly, the review found evidence that pharmaceutical companies "had been aware of problems but did not reveal them." In a memo leaked last month from GlaxoSmithKline, the company w

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