Thailand Pays for a PR Coup

Thailand's unelected interim government, which was installed after a military coup in September 2006, is "increasingly unpopular at home" and "under attack abroad for overriding drug patents," reports Reuters. So, according to former army chief turned Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, Thailand will "spend $600,000 on a three-month public relations campaign" to improve the government's poor image. "The money isn't much, but we have to do what we have to do," said Chulanont.


Minnesota Doctors on Drug Company Drip

An examination of records from Minnesota, where legislation requires drug company payments to doctors to be disclosed, reveals that between 1997 and 2005 over 5,500 medical professionals in the state were paid a total of over $57 million. Gardiner Harris and Janet Roberts report that "another $40 million went to clinics, research centers and other organizations. More than 20 percent of the state’s licensed physicians received money.


Weight-Loss Drug Told to Lose the Advertising

The Australian government's drug regulator has revoked Roche's permission to advertise its weight-loss drug, Xenical. It was originally approved as a prescription-only drug for those rating over 30 on the Body Mass Index (BMI), or 27 if other health conditions were present.


Industry Funding Skews Breast Cancer Research

As had previously been shown with "heart, stroke and bone marrow cancer research," a review by medical researchers found that "breast cancer studies funded by drug companies are more likely to yield positive findings than those without pharmaceutical industry backing." Researchers at the University of North Carolina "looked at 140 studies published in 2003, 1998 and 1993 in 10 medical journals on breast cancer therapies, nearly half of which were deemed to have had drug company involvement in the for


Drug Gets a Cameo in a Film Backed by Its Maker

Stephanie Saule reports that "Innerstate, a documentary about three people coping with disabling chronic illness, may be coming to a theater near you. If so, admission will be free, courtesy of the drug maker that produced the film. The 58-minute film ... is an unusual form of soft-pedal marketing of a blockbuster drug, Remicade.


WHO's Money?

The British Medical Journal reports that the director of the World Health Organization's (WHO's) department of mental health and substance abuse, Benedetto Saraceno, proposed in an e-mail that the European Parkinson's Disease Association accept a $10,000 grant from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and pass it on to the UN agency. WHO has a policy that it doesn't accept contributions from drug companies.


Docs, Foundations Prescribe End to Pharma Marketing Payoffs

A coalition of academics, advocates and foundations has called for strict limits on conflict-ridden, "direct-to-physician" marketing campaigns by pharmaceutical companies. A typical campaign provides free samples to doctors, accompanied by free lunches for office staff and doctors, while some also sponsor speaker's bureaus and provide gifts and junkets.



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