Health

Drug Companies Fund Patient Advocacy Groups

"Pharmaceutical companies are pouring millions of dollars into patient
advocacy groups and medical organisations to help expand markets for their
products.
They are also using sponsorships and educational grants to fund
disease-awareness campaigns that urge people to see their doctors.
Many groups have become largely or totally reliant on pharmaceutical
industry money, prompting concerns they are open to pressure from companies
pushing their products.
An investigation by The Age newspaper has found:

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Drug Industry Spins Medical Journals Through Ghostwriters

"Hundreds of articles in medical journals claiming to be written by academics or doctors have been penned by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies," the Observer reports. "The journals, bibles of the profession, have huge influence on which drugs doctors prescribe and the treatment hospitals provide. But The Observer has uncovered evidence that many articles written by so-called independent academics may have been penned by writers working for agencies which receive huge sums from drug companies to plug their products.

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Radio Fraudcasting

Radio listeners tuning into disk jockey Jeff Kovarsky on Dallas, Texas radio station KKMR in late 2000 could hear him extolling a magical weight-loss remedy. iIt helped me lose 36 pounds," Kovarsky said. iI ate so much over Thanksgiving, I still have turkey burps. But thanks to Body Solutions, I keep the weight off and now I'm ready for Christmas. So, bring it on, Grandma. The honey-baked ham, the apple pie, the Christmas cookies.

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Industry Hopes to Censor Ads on Hazards of Infant Formula

"Federal officials have softened a national advertising
campaign to promote breastfeeding after complaints from two
companies that make infant formula, according to several
doctors and nurses who are helping the government with the
effort. After the two companies [Mead Johnson and Abbott] and the top officials of the American Academy of Pediatrics complained to federal health
officials, the government decided to eliminate spots
discussing the risk of leukemia and diabetes in babies not

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Breast Cancer Action Vs. Corporate "Pinkwashing"

"To draw attention to the troubling trend of corporate 'pinkwashing,' Breast Cancer Action, a national grassroots breast cancer advocacy organization, is running an ad in the national edition of the New York Times questioning some high-profile corporate marketing campaigns launched in connection with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 'We're not opposed to companies raising money for the cause,' said Barbara Brenner, Breast Cancer Action's executive director.

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Komen Foundation Carefully Manages Brand

"The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation started with a small promise, but became a giant in the battle against breast cancer with a corporate approach to PR," PR Week reports. Part of that approach is consistency of message. "Making sure the logo and brand message are used properly by volunteer affiliates and corporate partners can be a challenge," PR Week writes. "The foundation currently is working on a perception benchmarking project to gauge consumer awareness and the brand's strengths and weaknesses, [the foundation's communications director Susan] Carter says.

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Drug Company Vies For Media Spotlight

While the Food and Drug Administration is hearing testimonies on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs, one pharmaceutical giant is hoping to gets its spin on drug marketing in the news. The FDA is reviewing DTC guidelines that cover the $2.7 billion that the pharmaceutical industry now spends annually on television, radio and print advertising.

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Belated Courage

Following recent revelations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency misled the public about air quality in New York following the 9/11 terrorist attack, the New York Daily News has been crowing about how columnist Juan González "was the first to sound the alarm" that ground zero was a toxic dump after 9/11. As Cynthia Cotts points out, however, the newspaper "was not always so crazy about González's scoop.

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Dust and Deception

"Last week," notes columnist Paul Krugman, "a quietly scathing report by the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed what some have long suspected: in the aftermath of the World Trade Center's collapse, the agency systematically misled New Yorkers about the risks the resulting air pollution posed to their health.

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EPA Failed New Yorkers On Post-9/11 Air Quality

Nearly two years after the collapse of the World Trade Center, the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general reports that the failure of EPA officials to properly inform New Yorkers of the dangers of the fallout can be traced to inside the White House. "The news that White House staff ordered the EPA to minimize potential health dangers near Ground Zero was bad enough," NY Daily News' Juan Gonzalez writes.

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