Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More on the Sheffield University scandal

A story on Blumsohn's scientific diagreements with Procter and Gamble (doesn't mention the university's involvement documented in the Slate.com piece). "Efficacy of Osteoporosis Medicine Challenged."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

All you have to do is dream

Mark your calendars: only one month to go until National Sleep Awareness Week. This means a week of non-stop news stories about sleep-deprived Americans, and tons of press for sleeping pills and other sleep products, courtesy of the industry-supported National Sleep Foundation. You can prepare yourself by reading the Forbes cover story, "The Sleep Racket," or listening to the On Point public radio show, "To Sleep Via Pill."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

We are all ADHD now

75,000 Americans show signs of addiction to stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, says a new study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and over 1.6 million have misused the the drugs. Students are using stimulants to boost their academic performances. But the study itself was funded by Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Strattera, a non-stimulant alternative. The full story appears in The Washington Post.

Have a look as well at Joshua Foer's 2005 article in Slate.com, "The Adderall Me: My Romance with ADHD Meds." Larry Diller writes about marketing stimulants in his 2001 Salon.com article, "An end run to marketing victory." The WBUR radio show On Point ran a program last week on ADHD drugs, especially the recommendation of an FDA advisory panel that stimulants be tagged with a "black box" warning.

Friday, February 24, 2006


I have this syndrome, what do I get? I just saw an ad on TV for this. Anyone know who (or what) is behind this?


Thursday, February 23, 2006

CMAJ editors sacked

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has fired John Hoey and Anne Marie Todkill, the editors of its flagship journal, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), after a controversial article on Plan B. The CMA is getting hammered by critics for interfering with the editorial policy of the journal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hallmark MD

The American Medical Association has decided to launch an ad campaign for itself. It is running TV ads on shows like The O'Reilly Factor and Project Runway; in print, it is distributing thank-you cards for patients to send to their doctors. "Your doctor is always there for you. Helping you to feel your best. Now is your chance to return the favor with a specially designed card from the AMA."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Corporations, universities: same thing

The chancellor of the University of California-San Diego, Marye Anne Fox, received at least $339,260 in cash and stocks in the past year from corporate consulting and advisory board positions. Her links include a medical device manufacturer and a contract research organization. Fox says that “All things involved in managing and directing and envisioning for corporate entities are virtually the same things you have to do for universities."

FDA staff objects, FDA approves anyway

Scientists at the FDA unanimously recommended rejecting the application of Cyberonics Inc. to sell its surgically implanted vagus nerve stimulator as a treatment for depression. The only clinical trial failed to show effectiveness. But Dr. Daniel G. Schultz, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, decided to approve it anyway. Why, asks The New York Times?

Abbott is suspended

Abbott Laboratories has been nailed for entertaining doctors at dog races and lap dancing clubs. (PharmaGossipp has an interesting take on the story as well.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Strib plumps a weight loss pill

The story in Wednesday's Star Tribune on a new, as yet unapproved diet drug from Sanofi Aventis reads as if it came from a press release, complete with enthusiastic endorsement by Sanofi's paid doctor-shills.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Alan Cassels to speak at the U

Thursday, Feb. 16 2006
12:15 PM to 01:15 PM

Student Committee on Bioethics Lecture Series

Disease Mongering 101: The Marketer's Guide to Selling Sickness
Alan Cassels

Moos Health Sciences Tower - 2-650
University of Minnesota

Alan Cassels is a drug policy researcher in Victoria, BC, Canada. He led a team of researchers which produced Canada’s first evaluation of the quality of media reporting of prescription drugs. He recently co-authored the book Selling Sickness: How The World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients (Nation Books, 2005).
After reading the Conrad essay on medicalization, I looked for the paxil self-test he mentions online and took it: http://www.paxilcr.com/Social_Anxiety_Disorder_Test.jsp

Very amusing...As I expected, it told me "Your score in not typical of a person suffering from SAD," but then went on to say " We strongly encourage you to make an appointment with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms." What symptoms??

Plus, you can see why so many people think they have SAD when according to the self-test, avoiding talking to people you don't know or finding it distressing to swear in public count as symptoms.

Embryos R Us

Fertility is not a miracle; it's a market. Or so says Harvard Business School professor Debora Spar in her new book, The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception (Harvard Business School Press, 2006.) Spar is interviewed by Lynn Harris in Salon.com, and (by podcast) on "The Leonard Lopate Show."

Monday, February 13, 2006

A black box for the stimulants?

An FDA advisory panel has recommended that stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta carry a black box warning because of their dangerous effects on the heart.

Writing for dollars

While the country works itself into a frenzy over the $2 billion a year that lobbyists spend to influence politicians, it fails to notice that the drug industry spends nearly 10 times that much to influence doctors. Or so writes former NEJM editor Jerome Kassirer in The Boston Globe.

Science Journalism

Interesting combination of our last two discussions: "Reporters Find Science Journals Harder to Trust, but Not Easy to Verify" (NYT--no, this isn't the only paper I read, just the best). Interestingly, this story is on the front page of the business section.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Academic Misconduct

More on the cloning scandal we discussed last time: "University Panel Faults Cloning Co-Author".

Friday, February 03, 2006

Are you PharmFree?

The American Medical Student Association is the only mainstream American medical group to take a principled stand against gifts from the drug industry. When they demonstrated at Pfizer headquarters on PharmFree Day, Pfizer called the police.

Are you PharmFree?

The American Medical Student Association is the only mainstream American medical group to take a principled stand against gifts from the drug industry. When they demonstrated at Pfizer headquarters on PharmFree Day, Pfizer called the police.