Editors at the world's most prominent medical journals, alarmed that drug companies are exercising too much control over research results, have agreed to adopt a uniform policy that reserves the right to refuse to publish drug company-sponsored studies unless the researchers involved are guaranteed scientific independence. The journal editors decided to act after several recent cases involving charges that drug companies tried to withhold research results or present them in the most favorable way.
"It was 2:05 a.m. when an ambulance brought Mr. Jacobs and his daughter to Sarasota Memorial Hospital's emergency room," stated a news release from Sarasota Memorial Hospital. "Mr. Jacobs was complaining of difficulty breathing. He was 65 years old, overweight and on medication for high blood pressure.
The Washingon Post reported NY-based PR firm Cohn & Wolfe's campaign for Glaxo SmithKline to promote its drug Paxil as a treatment for social anxiety disorder has raised concerns. The campaign calls into question whether pharmaceutical companies, traditionally in the business of finding new drugs for existing disorders, are increasingly in the business of seeking new disorders for existing drugs.
Minnesota's largest health care system Allina Health System has been under the close scrutiny of the Minnesota attorney general. At issue is whether Allina improperly spent money on outside consultants and executive perks. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Allina spent over $300,000 this spring on "crisis management" consultants.
A Harris Interactive/BBK Healthcare Poll showed that more Americans are considering clinical research studies as treatment options and they want more education about the federal and international measures designed to protect them. According to a press release on "The Will & Why Survey," 83 percent of the 5000 respondents to the nationwide online survey said they would consider a clinical research study, but only 13 percent said they have had the opportunity to take part in one.
Former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro is back in the news as a celebrity spokesperson for thalidomide, the infamous drug that was taken off the market after causing more than 10,000 severe deformities in children whose mothers took it for morning sickness. Thalidomide is now being prescribed to combat multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer from which Ferraro suffers. Dan Klores Communications handled the PR for Ferraro and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
The American Medical Association is considering putting the brakes on its controversial practice of selling information about its members to the nation's largest drug marketers. The AMA generates more than $20 million in revenue from selling doctors' biographies, which include everything from medical license information and private telephone numbers to federal identification data issued to track controlled substances. This information is an important marketing tool, giving pharmaceutical companies valuable insight into which doctors to target for the latest brand-name drugs.
PR giant Porter Novelli steps up its efforts to oppose the patients' bill of rights as it makes its way to the Senate floor for a vote. Porter Novelli represents the Health Benefits Coalition, a 3-year-old industry front group made up of 32 organizations such as the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers, according to a PR Week article. In preparation for the Senate debate on the bill, PN is doing polling, launching print, radio, and TV ads, creating briefing books, and holding a press conference the last week of June.
When it comes to science about your health, the Financial Post of Canada turns to the industry-funded American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) as its guru. In its "3rd Annual Junk Science Week," the Financial Post defends "smog, genetically modified foods, business, government & science, pesticides & diesel." Yum. For the real dope on ACSH, read PR Watch, vol. 5, no. 4.
Veteran journalist Bill Moyers exposed decades of corruption of science and politics by companies, trade associations and PR firms defending the chemical industry in his March 26 documentary, Trade Secrets. In the week leading up to the actual broadcast, the chemical industry launched its own attack on Moyers, claiming that his documentary was unfair and biased.