Thursday, May 31, 2012

Medical whistleblower Nancy Olivieri awarded honorary degree at Dalhousie University

 Dalhousie University has recognized whistleblower Dr. Nancy Olivieri "for taking a courageous stand that helped bring issues of medical ethics to the forefront of our collective consciousness, and for her national and international research in blood disorders. In both of these realms, Dr. Olivieri has chosen to look beyond herself in order to advance the greater good."

Hat tip to Gary Schwitzer for the story.  You can read his take here.

Weapons charge against doctor "stems from his habit of carrying a 9 mm pistol while he worked and storing a .380-caliber handgun in the reception area of his clinic"

A Chattanooga doctor faces a possible 20 years in prison for health care fraud, income tax evasion, money laundering and "using a firearm in the operation of a criminal enterprise."  Read about it here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We're sorry if you were offended, says Accretive executive

 Accretive Health Inc. attempts damage control at a field hearing in St. Paul led by Sen. Al Franken.  Read about it in the Strib.

Doc Watson: Black Mountain Rag

Conference: Preventing Overdiagnosis

The Preventing Overdiagnosis conference will take place on 10-12 September 2013 at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, in partnership with the BMJ, Consumer Reports, and Bond University.  Read more here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grassley to NIH: "Please explain how the NIH arrived at this decision to award Dr. Nemeroff despite past ethical problems"

The NIH may have forgiven Charles Nemeroff for his ethical transgressions, but Sen. Charles Grassley has not.  Read the latest on Pharmalot.

Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman interview: Part 2

The conclusion of my interview with Adriane Fugh-Berman of Pharmed Out can be found here.  (Part 1 is here.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

A warning about "liberation therapy" for MS

The CBC interviews Leigh Turner about the recent FDA warning about liberation therapy for multiple sclerosis.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Fairview CEO is out

Mark Eustis, the man who invited the bill collectors into Fairview Hospital, has been shown the door.  Read about it in the Strib.

The annual Pharmed Out conference is approaching

Pharmed Out's third annual conference, "Missing The Target: When Practitioners Harm More Than Heal," will be held June 14-15 at Georgetown University.  You can read an interview with the director of the project, Adriane Fugh-Berman, here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nemeroff is back

He may have failed to report $12 million in drug company payments; he may have prompted a US Senate investigation; he may have been banned from applying for NIH grants by his former employer, Emory University.  But that doesn't mean the NIH won't fund him.  Read about it here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Is Texas impeding stem cell research?

"Stem cell researchers in the USA and abroad are reeling from new laws in Texas that commercialise experimental procedures and could attract patients away from clinical trials," Carrie Arnold writes in The Lancet.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Did the Center for Practical Bioethics downplay the risks of pain medication?

 The Senate Finance Committee is looking at the links between manufacturers of pain medication and the organizations that they have funded, including the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City.  As William Heisel writes:"The Senate inquiry also has brought unwanted attention to the American Journal of Bioethics. The Kansas City center was the journal's home until a few months ago, but the journal has hastened to distance itself from the Kansas City center."  Read more here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Nice work if you can get it

At Wake Forest University, the leader of the academic health center gets nearly $2.5 million in compensation, including over $9,000 to pay for his country club dues.  Read about it here.

American Journal of Bioethics posts "what amounts to an unsigned threat"

See "Slap: American Journal of Bioethics Goes on Offense During Painkiller Inquiry" by William Heisel, at Reporting on Health.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bunch of Amateurs

“American professionals have had to grow up right alongside their striving, awkward, amateur cousins in the same way that the first attempts at gentry in the Old South had to contend with their toothless cousins named Fishbait or Elrod, sleeping in the bushes outside the mansion.”

An interview with Jack Hitt on his new book: read it here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"We are giving the image that we are money-hungry"

When the Accretive bill collectors arrived at Fairview, many employees were uncomfortable with their tactics.  But Accretive had the power to show them the door.  "We've started firing people that aren't getting with the program," wrote Accretive's Andrew Crook to Fairview executives.  Read about it in the Strib.  

Angioplasty: the 21st Century's Answer to Leeches

From The Incidental Economist. HT Michael Millenson.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Drug company money and the rise of opioid use

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 18, 2012.  For larger version, click here.

The story behind the Senate investigation of pain drug manufacturers

Andrew Kolodny of Maimonides Medical Center, on Pharmalot:

"They [pain drug manufacturers] realized that doctors were reluctant to prescribe opioids on a long-term basis to patients with chronic pain, because they didn’t want their patients to get addicted. Since Purdue recognized that fear of addiction was the greatest obstacle to convincing doctors to prescribe OxyContin, they went about creating a marketing campaign and funded educational programs that told doctors they didn’t have to worry about getting people addicted. And the key message was also that the drugs -opioids – are not really addictive and we – physicians – were allowing people to suffer needlessly because we were overly concerned about creating addiction. They used the term ‘opiophobia.’ And they also maintained that if a doctor started a patient on opioids and then a few months later the patient appeared to be addicted because they were running out of medicine early or demanding higher doses… that doctors should not assume the patient is addicted. Instead, the industry’s key opinion leaders began teaching a concept called pseudo-addiction, which meant that the patient wasn’t really addicted; they just looked like they were addicted because their pain was undertreated. That instead of treating patients as if they were addicts, doctors should simply increase the dose. That’s a very dangerous message that’s still being taught today."

Read the entire interview here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

How to sharpen pencils


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Purdue Pharma, AJOB and the Center for Practical Bioethics

More on the financial links between the Center for Practical Bioethics, AJOB and Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, this time from the Kansas City Star:

"In 2010, Christopher and other experts published an article in The American Journal of Bioethics that raised concerns about the growing use of “pain contracts” between physicians and patients receiving pain medications. The contracts frequently call for urine screenings, require patients to use a single pharmacy and limit prescription refills. Patients who don’t abide by the terms may be dropped from treatment."

Read more here:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Senate Finance Committee targets a bioethics center

The Senate Finance Committee has launched another investigation, this time into the makers of narcotic painkillers. And for the first time, the Senate has targeted a bioethics center: the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City.  Read the letter sent to the Center for Practical Bioethics here.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The creation of the superbug

The creation of the superbug,
I thought this short documentary was interesting, especially when it gets to the part concerning the ethics of not publishing the methods part in academic journals out of fear of another Ted Kaczynski.

Prognosis: Profits

"An investigation by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer found that while North Carolina hospitals get tax breaks worth hundreds of millions, some are doing little to help the poor. Instead, many hospitals are pursuing uninsured patients with lawsuits or collections agencies that can destroy their credit."

 Read more here.

"The Apostate" wins National Magazine Award for reporting

Lawrence Wright has picked up a well-deserved National Magazine Award for his article on scientology in The New Yorker, "The Apostate."  You can read the article here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Call for submissions: Science, Technology, and Medicine Graduate Student Paper Prize

The Science, Technology, and Medicine interest group of the SMA is pleased to welcome submissions for the STM Graduate Student Paper Prize. This prize is awarded annually for a paper that offers an innovative anthropological approach to issues in science, technology, or medicine. Read more here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Merck pays Penn bioethicists to teach Chinese about bribery and corruption

A faculty member from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Neuroscience and Society is going to China to teach a 10-day bioethics course as part of its "plan to build ties with industry in China."  According to Pharmalot the course will review "hot-button issues" such as clinical trials and corruption.
At the bargain price of only $9,200 per student (estimated), the course obviously needs to be funded by the pharmaceutical industry. As Joe Powers explains:

"Yes, we received grants from Merck and Sanofi to develop a bioethics program in China… We started a consortium… Each company is contributing seed money to establish a program and the University of Pennsylvania has committed funding, along with a large medical school in China… I have no problem accepting industry funds... We have a conflict of interest steering committee here at Penn to make sure everything is ethical."

John Hopkins ethicists will teach Secret Service agents not to hire hookers

Ethics experts at Johns Hopkins University have been enlisted to deal with the Secret Service prostitution scandal. The solution? A "strategic plan." The story is here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sainfort pleads, Jacko walks

The Sainfort-Jacko affair at the U is limping to a conclusion.  What started as fourteen felony counts has now been reduced to one.  Read about it in the Strib.