Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ghostwritten textbook

Documents show that the SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) paid for a writing company to develop the outline and text for the two named authors of textbook “Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care”
Article in New York Times.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The latest F.A.D.

Are you a picky eater? Do people call you an infantile loser, just because you eat like a 4 year-old child? Well, the joke is on them. You're no loser; you suffer from Selective Eating Disorder.

This story has been making the rounds since this summer, with high-profile articles in the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC.com, as well as LiveScience.com and local news outlets. Of course, there's an online support group as well. Sadly, as yet there is no treatment for this terrible affliction. But researchers at Duke and the University of Pittsburgh are laying the groundwork for recognition of this disorder, with the aptly-named Food F.A.D. Study (Finicky Eating in Adults). As the Mayo Clinic observes, "[a]s more light is shed on selective eating disorder, more treatment options may become available."

Given the sudden flurry of attention to this crippling disorder, we can expect to see clinical trials for pharmaceutical treatments -- probably with drugs currently approved for O.C.D. -- within the next year. These new therapies will join the booming market for treatments of the various manifestations of Stunted Emotional Development Disorder, including promising new therapies for Extreme Couch Potato Syndrome, Emotional Incontinence and Relationship Avoidance and Insensitivity in Men.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sick? Whatever you do, don't go to the hospital.

Almost one out of every five patients admitted to hospitals is injured by the medical care they receive there, according to a study cited in the New York Times. "The most common problems were complications from procedures or drugs and hospital-acquired infections." Another study of Medicare patients indicates a similar, though slightly lower, rate of risk.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cool pictures, hot radiation

Cone-beam CT scanners provides stunning 3-D images of teeth, jaws and skulls.  Dentists and orthodontists love them, not least because they are so profitable.  But are they safe?  The NY Times reports.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Merck wins

Merck has won a jury trial against a Florida woman who claimed that its osteoporosis drug, Fosamax caused her jawbone to disintegrate  Read it here.

The FDA pulls Darvon

After a 32-year dispute over drug safety, the FDA has pulled the painkiller Darvon from the market.  Read it here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TNR Archives: Tobacco Advertising in 1954

Apropos of the FDA discussion that took place this week surrounding the suggestion to include graphic images of the effects of smoking on packs of cigarettes, The New Republic sent an email today that includes an article from Walter Goodman, written in 1954, which enumerates the various campaign strategies tobacco companies used at the time to market their products. An excerpt:

"Assaulted with report after unnerving laboratory report on the link between cigarettes and cancer, the nation's tobacco lords and their Madison Avenue idea men are verging on the schizophrenic. They dare not protest too much; yet, will not silence seem to mean consent to the terrible charges of medical science."

Some of the marketing ploys: "...And speaking of Viceroy, it has a new HEALTH-GUARD filter, made of ESTRON. This 100 percent filter (an entrancing statistic) is Pure! It's Snow White, with 20,000 tiny filter traps. However…the world's most efficient filter is du Maurier's. 'No other filter tip of any composition or material takes out so much nicotine and tars and at the same time lets you draw the smoke so easily, so comfortably.'" ESTRON! Sounds like a winner.

And of course, fifty years later, tobacco companies are still tip-toeing around the undeniable evidence that there is a link between smoking and cancer, and they're mad about this whole graphic-warning-on-cigarette-packs idea. Anyway, read the 1954 TNR article, here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Plagiarism Inc.

"A CAREFULLY MANICURED soul patch graces Jordan Kavoosi's lower lip. His polo shirt exposes tattoos on both forearms—on his right, a Chinese character; on his left, a cover-up of previous work. Curling his mouth up into a sideways grin, the 24-year-old sinks back into his brown leather chair."

"I mean, anybody can do anything," he says, gazing out a window that overlooks the strip-mall parking lot. "You just have to do whatever it takes to get there."

Kavoosi is in the business of plagiarism. For $23 per page, one of his employees will write an essay. Just name the topic and he'll get it done in 48 hours. He'll even guarantee at least a "B" grade or your money back. According to his website, he's the best essay writer in the world.

Former Daily reporter Andy Mannix published this superbly written investigative story in the City Pages last June.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pharma-sponsored mommy parties

"Hey, Suze. It's Tiff."

"Hi, Tiff. What's up?"

"Not much. You know, same ol' GTL. Also I'm having a little party tonight -- just the girls. Think you can come?"

"Not sure. Will there be any nurses marketing Pharma products?"


"I am so there."

"Sweet. But do me a favor: don't tell the FDA."

Await Your Reply

Dan Chaon, author of the literary thriller Await Your Reply, will be reading at the Alumni Center at 7:30 pm on Monday, November 15.  More details here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fewer bribes to doctors?

Maybe, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  Read about it here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When Needles Dislodge, Dialysis Can Turn Deadly

"Dialysis patients die or are hospitalized every year as a result of catastrophic hemorrhages during treatment, a ProPublica review of regulatory and court records has found. In dozens of cases in which patients suffered such harm, government inspection records show, regulators later cited clinics for failing to adhere to minimum standards of care."

"These incidents are among the most gruesome -- and most preventable -- lapses in a dialysis system that has some of the highest mortality and hospitalization rates in the industrialized world. Each year, about 1 in 5 patients die, almost twice the mortality rate of countries with the best outcomes."

The latest installment in Pro Publica's investigation into the American dialysis system can be found here.

Does an osteoporosis drug kill your jawbone?

A patient is suing Merck over Fosamax.  Her lawyerhas told the jury that "Fosamax had caused such debilitating jawbone deterioration that Mrs. Graves required five major operations, including a lengthy surgery to replace her broken jaw with bone from her left arm."  Read it in the Times.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

American Public Media wants to know...

Does your doctor accept pharmaceutical industry payments? The Public Insight Network, through American Public Media, would like to know your story. They've teamed up with ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Investigative Reporting...and I bet they're planning something good. In Minnesota we're lucky to have our own register of drug industry payments to Minnesota doctors, which can be found here. You can also check ProPublica's "Dollars for Docs" register, here. If you find anything interesting about your doctor, and want to share your story with the Public Insight Network, click here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Selling stimulants by word of mouth

Read about this innovative marketing campaign here.

"We're in a business of whores"

"Gawker is very upfront that we're whores, we're in a business of whores," Craggs says. "All of journalism is a whorehouse. Other journalists don't like that shoved in their face, but it's true. Even the upright folks at the New York Times are part of the whorehouse."

Gelf Magazine profiles Deadspin's brilliant sportswriter, Tommy Craggs, here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Confederacy of Sauces

In honor of Jack Hitt week in class and election day in South Carolina, where Jack Hitt's nephew, Rob Miller, is challenging Joe "You Lie" Wilson for a congressional seat, let us revisit Hitt's classic article about the South Carolina barbecue wars, "A Confederacy of Sauces."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't read this one

The UK's Daily Mail reports the heartbreaking story of Alan Mitchell, a drug addict who accepted £200 from a US "charity" in exchange for undergoing a vasectomy. The charity, Project Prevention, "seeks to reduce the burden of [drug addiction] on taxpayers, trim down social worker caseloads, and alleviate from our clients the burden of having children that will potentially be taken away." Don't read this story, which is here.

New Drug Approved For Emotional Incontinence

Not from the Onion. NPR reports.

A ghost speaks

In The Scholarly Kitchen, a medical ghostwriter reveals the tools of his trade.