Health

The Secret Sell of Drug Sponsorship

"Security guards, secret guest lists and silent sponsors were not what some participants were expecting when they turned up at a meeting in Sydney earlier this year to discuss new medicines. Billed as a 'Collaborative Forum' at the University of NSW, the invitation had been signed by three medical groups including Arthritis Australia. Academic kudos for the forum was provided by a major report prepared by the University of Canberra.

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Medical Journals Under the Microscope

New studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association have found problems in medical journals involving biases and conflicts of interest. Other problems originate in news releases put out by the journals themselves, which routinely fail to mention study limitations or industry funding and may exaggerate the importance of findings. Dr.

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Physician, Sell Thyself

In exchange for money, some physicians have allowed pharmaceutical sales representatives into their examining rooms to meet with patients, review medical charts and recommend what medicines to prescribe. "And some of those salespeople tried to influence doctors to prescribe drugs for uses that were not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration," reports the New York Times. A lawsuit brought by Dr. David P.

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Endorsements for Sale

The Child Health Corporation of America, which "says its mission is to find the best medical supplies for some of the nation's biggest children's hospitals," is "endorsing certain products in return for a percentage of sales and, in some cases, shares or warrants from their manufacturers." Nevertheless, "Manufacturers that receive the seal hold it up as a major independent endorsement."

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Spirits Crisis Controlled

PR Week describes how the Distilled Spirits Council, an alcohol industry trade group, handled a "crisis" when the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) released a study claiming that children consume 25% of alcohol sold in the US. "Such a study could do irreparable harm to the alcohol industry," says PR Week. DSC pored through the raw data used in CASA's study, rerunning the numbers "in hope of finding some miscalculation" and ready to jump if there was a mistake.

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Ethics Complaint Filed Against PHRMA

"The Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative has filed a seven-page complaint on March 18 with the State Ethics Commission about the hardball lobbying tactics employed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and its grassroots firm, Bonner & Assocs.," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "The non-profit group is an advocate of universal healthcare and a backer of a Maryland bill that would lower the cost of prescription drugs for Medicaid patients and the uninsured. PhRMA opposes the bill.

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Astroturf Used By Drug Companies To Kill Bill

The Baltimore Sun reports that Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) hired Washington-based lobbying firm Bonner & Associates to kill legislation that would lower the cost of prescription drugs for Maryland's Medicaid program and for lower-income residents who have no medical insurance. According to the Sun, Bonner & Associates recruited a small Michigan-based nonprofit group called the Consumer Alliance to front for PhRMA.

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Toxic Haste

Literally before the dust had cleared at Ground Zero, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the city's news media rushed to assure people that the city's air was safe. Now evidence is accumulating that these reassurances may have been tragically wrong, as investigators find dangerous levels of PCBs, mercury and asbestos thrown into the air by the disaster. "Many people who live or work in lower Manhattan are convinced that they have not been told the truth," reports Alyssa Katz. "They say that they're sick--throats sore, lungs hacking.

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