Health

Medical Journals Haunted by PR Ghostwriters

"Scientists are accepting large sums of money from drug companies to put their names to articles endorsing new medicines that they have not written - a growing practice that some fear is putting scientific integrity in jeopardy," reports Sarah Bosely, health editor of the Guardian.

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From Hard Liquor to Diet Pills

Judy Blatman, who helped put cocktail hour on TV for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (which represents some of the nation's largest hard-liquor companies), has been hired to represent the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which represents companies that sell diet pills and allegedly "natural" food supplements -- including ephedra, which has been linked to

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Lobbyist Tells of Graham's War on Health & Safety Regs

John D. Graham founded the industry-funded Harvard Center for Risk Analysis that last week issued a whitewash report on mad cow risks in the US. Now Graham has a new government post at the Office of Management and Budget where he is leading the Bush administration's assault on environmental, health and safety regulations. The secret plotting between business lobbyists and Graham has even angered a lobbyist who leaked information to the Washington Post. The documents "provide another glimpse of behind-the-scenes strategy-setting by business lobbyists" such as the U.S.

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Pharmaceutical Industry Taps Edelman to Handle Bioterrorism

The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) has hired Edelman Public Relations Worldwide to help position the pharmaceutical industry as a "leading source of information to the public" on the issue of bioterrorism. For the other side of the story, check out what Corpwatch.org has to say about wartime profiteering by drug companies and the controversy on patented drugs which started when the first signs of anthrax attacks appeared in the US.

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Bristol-Myers Partners with Hollywood to Push Pravachol

Cholesterol lowering drugs are a ten billion dollar per year market and Bristol-Myers wants a boost to gain market share for its drug Pravachol. To do so it has partnered with Hollywood, dumping a large contribution into the non-profit Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) to enlist celebrities in advertisements subtly pushing Pravachol. The EIF tells the New York Times that the ads are not really ads at all, but a public service. The campaign will include celebrity interviews on talk shows and brochures in doctor's offices and pharmacies.

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Warning: Industry PR Smears Good Science As "Junk Science"

Public health scientists Samet and Burke issue a strong warning in the current American Journal of Public Health about "the tobacco industry's attempt to discredit the scientific evidence on passive smoking, particularly the industry's use of the label 'junk science.' ... Unfortunately, 'junk science' has now become an ingrained pejorative. The public health community will need to be watchful in other arenas where the "junk science" gambit will be used. ... Trust Us We're Experts offer(s) a popular and cautionary account.... The lessons learned from this episode ...

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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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Junkman Seeks Human Guinea Pigs

Steven Milloy, the industry lobbyist and Cato Institute staffer who calls himself "the junkman" at www.junkscience.com, is going to be getting a lot of publicity in the coming months. He has a book coming out in September titled Junk Science Judo: Self-Defense Against Health Scares and Scams, which he is already promoting on the radio talk show circuit.

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