Buffeted by bad press from recalls of dangerous drugs and public bitterness over high drug prices, the drug industry has decided to cure its ailing image by sponsoring its own TV talk show, hosted by Billy Tauzin, the former GOP congressman who now heads the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
The New York Times today published an op-ed piece blasting research that tests the comparative effectiveness of pharmaceuticals.
"The biggest threat to science," writes Jennifer Washburn, is "the decline of government support ... and the growing dominance of private spending over American research." In 1965, the U.S. government funded more than 60 percent of research, while in 2006, 65 percent of research was privately funded.
"There's sensitivity to sponsored news right now," admits KEF Media Associates' Yvonne Goforth, adding that her firm is doing more to target satellite media tours (SMTs) -- sponsored and often scripted television "interviews" -- to local TV stations.
Medical researchers Les Toop and Dee Mangin caution that the European Union (EU) should learn from the experience of New Zealand and reject proposals to allow direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) of prescription drugs. For the last three years, the New Zealand government has been considering whether to ban or further restrict DTC advertising.
In early September, "major newspapers reported the alarming news that suicides among young people were on the rise because of a precipitous drop in the use of antidepressants," writes Alison Bass. The academic study the news articles were based on concluded that new safety warnings for young people using antidepressant drugs had discouraged doctors from writing prescriptions for depressed youths.
Ben Goldacre, a London-based doctor and writer, was a little "surprised" by a recent offer posted in an email on a science writers' mailing list.
In May of this year, the drug company Eli Lilly announced that it would post details of "all educational grant funding and other monetary contributions provided to U.S.-based organizations" into an online database. Tucked away amongst the numerous grants made in the first six months of 2007 are details of funds provided to patient groups, various research centres and a sprinkling of political groups.