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Healthy Skepticism Updates

Healthy Skepticism Update 23 April 2011

This is the first Healthy Skepticism Update for 2011. We have been busy behind the scenes.

 

News from Healthy Skepticism
 

No Free Lunch is merging with Healthy Skepticism

We are delighted to announce that Bob Goodman, the founder of No Free Lunch, has decided that NFL will merge with Healthy Skepticism.

We have surveyed NFL supporters regarding the merger. We extend a special welcome to NFL supporters who responded to the survey and have been added to our Healthy Skepticism free subscribers list to receive HS Updates about once a month. They will receive more information about Healthy Skepticism soon. We will publish results of the survey then begin upgrading and updating the NFL website. The NFL Pen Amnesty program is being revived and extended for re-launch soon.

 

News from other organisations
 

Conference program: Pharma Knows Best? Managing Medical Knowledge

June 16th & 17th, 2011
Georgetown University
Washington, DC
A collaborative effort between PharmedOut and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.
More information, including the conference program, is now available at: www.pharmedout.org/2011Conference.htm
 

Prescrire’s proposals for France’s national conference on medicines policy

Prescrire has accepted an invitation from the French government to participate in a national conference on medicines policy, organised in the wake of the Mediator scandal. By revealing numerous malfunctions in the medicines chain, the scandal over the weight-loss drug has sparked a crisis of confidence between patients and the healthcare professions, one that requires everyone's attention and energy.
Prescrire’s 57 proposals are available at http://english.prescrire.org/en/81/168/46838/0/NewsDetails.aspx

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This Healthy Skepticism Update has been sent to our 203 members who live in 28 countries and our 3,351 subscribers who live in 124 countries. Let us know if you have any news you would like disseminated via these updates. Everyone who supports our aims is welcome to become a member of Healthy Skepticism. For membership enquiries or to cease receiving these updates please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

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Healthy Skepticism Update 16 December 2010

Can Healthy Skepticism own an academic journal?
In the previous HS Update we mentioned that we had been offered an opportunity to become the owner of an established medline listed, peer reviewed academic journal. We invited potential subscribers and authors to express their views about this opportunity via a survey. We thank the 72 people who responded. The survey is now closed. The responses indicate that we have enough potential authors and reviewers to support a journal. However it is unlikely that we have enough potential subscribers willing to pay large enough subscriptions to support the current costs of the journal that was offered to us. At our current growth rate we may be able to support a journal within a few years.


Survey: Your views on Healthy Skepticism
We thank the 315 people who responded to our survey of views about our association. This survey is now closed. We will publish on our website soon a report on the results and present summaries of key issues in future HS Updates.


Videos of Selling Sickness conference Amsterdam 2010 now available
Videos of all the talks presented at the Selling Sickness international conference in Amsterdam on 7 and 8 October 2010 are now available at: http://www.gezondescepsis.nl/conference-2010.html

There is one video each for the following 7 sections of the conference:

Day 1 - Thursday 7 October
1. What is selling sickness and is it for real?
Welcome and opening - Ruud Coolen van Brakel
Where science meets marketing - Ray Moynihan
Industry’s role in informing the public - Brian Ager
DSM-V Opening Pandora’s Box - Allen Frances

2. What new methods are being used?
The Dutch situation, supervision and law enforcement - Josée Hansen
Clinical trials as disease mongering instruments - Trudy Dehue
Social Media and Pharma: Support or new commercial channel to care? - Rob Halkes

3. Learning from documented examples
Promotion to the public: European disease awareness campaigns - Teresa Alves
Promotion of prescription medicines to physicians and the public - Dee Mangin

4. Who pays the bill?
The influence on rational use of medicine - Kees de Joncheere
The influence on patients - Ilaria Passarani
Redesigning the incentives for the pharmaceutical industry - Dean Baker

Day 2 - Friday 8 October
5. Redesigning the system?
Financial and insurance aspects - Henk Eleveld
Independent information for patients - Hilda Bastian

6. The need for new regulations and guidelines
Self regulation on disease promotion - Lode Wigersma
Regulation of pharmaceutical promotion - Graham Dukes
Guidelines and HTA - Meindert Boysen

7. New responsibilities for main stakeholders?
Prize ‘best poster’
The industry: partner in solutions? - Michel Dutrée
Should the Medicines Evaluation Board be involved? - Bert Leufkens
International Cooperation - Peter Mansfield
Final panel discussion: towards a joint statement
Closing remarks - Ruud Coolen van Brakel

 

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Healthy Skepticism Update 2 December 2010

Can Healthy Skepticism own an academic journal?
Healthy Skepticism has been offered an opportunity to become the owner of an established medline listed, peer reviewed academic journal. The current scope of the journal includes worker, consumer and environmental health. Consumer health includes Healthy Skepticism’s focus on misleading health information including drug promotion.

We need to know if we have enough support to be able to cover the costs of a high quality journal.

If you might be interested in becoming a subscriber to a journal owned by Healthy Skepticism or might submit papers for publication in it, please express your views at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CQKNBVG

Survey: Your views on Healthy Skepticism
Our brief anonymous survey about Healthy Skepticism will close in 2 days. For your last chance to influence us via the survey visit: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/V9C9ZC6

Good and bad news from France
Prescrire International now available in English in 11 issues per year.
Prescrire is a non-profit, continuing education organisation that is completely independent of government and industry.
Visit: http://english.prescrire.org/en/

Public health improvements will not happen without public health champions speaking freely and honestly to the public. There is real danger these voices are being silenced in France.
Visit: http://blogs.bmj.com/tc/2010/11/

Pharmaceutical policy meeting
Utrecht WHO Winter Meeting, January 2011
Invitation and call for abstracts
The WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmaceutical Policy Analysis (head: Prof. Dr. Bert Leufkens) in collaboration with Dr. Richard Laing (Department of Essential Medicines and Pharmaceutical Policies, WHO) will organise again a [northern hemisphere] Winter Meeting for researchers in the field of pharmaceutical policy analysis.
Visit: http://www.pharmaceuticalpolicy.nl/ and click on News / Upcoming events.

 

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Healthy Skepticism Update 21 November 2010

HS International News issue: Public information as a marketing tool: Promotion of diseases and medicines
Sandra van Nuland and Zamire Damen work for Gezonde scepsis (Healthy Skepticism in The Netherlands). They have produced a report on pharmaceutical promotion via “information” for the general public. As part of this research, they examined campaigns around restless legs syndrome (RLS), overactive bladder (OAB) and heartburn. These three case studies demonstrate that elements of the public information are not in accordance with the guidelines set by the Dutch General Practitioners Society (NHG). For example, information about side effects and information about when medicinal intervention is warranted.

In collaboration with the Dutch critical consumer programme Tros Radar, a fake public information campaign around the issue of flatulence was designed, in order to demonstrate the mechanisms typically used in these campaigns and their effects on the public. They established a fictitious company with its own website (www.hetluchtop.nl, itclearstheair.nl), and commissioned TNS NIPO to carry out research into the disease burden. Promotional materials were prepared and distributed to GP surgeries, pharmacies and through the website. Based on the research conducted by TNS NIPO, they sent out a press release and quickly obtained the desired results: flatulence got a lot of attention in the media.

Read more at: www.healthyskepticism.org/global/news/int/hsin2010-11/


Survey: Your views on Healthy Skepticism
Already over 200 people have expressed a wide range of views about Healthy Skepticism via our brief anonymous survey. Your views are important to us so please express them at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/V9C9ZC6
We will be publishing a summary of the results with responses to many of the views expressed by our subscribers and members. We will use the results to help us set priorities for 2010.


New Book: The Risks of Prescription Drugs
We mentioned this book in the previous HS Update. Since then the editor Donald Light has told us that the best way to buy his book is from Amazon:
www.amazon.com/Risks-Prescription-Drugs-Columbia-Privatization/dp/0231146930/

 

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Healthy Skepticism Update 13 Novemer 2010

Survey: Your views on Healthy Skepticism
You are invited to express your views about Healthy Skepticism by responding to the brief anonymous survey at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/V9C9ZC6

The survey will ask for your views about our aims, membership, strengths and weaknesses.

Please forward this invitation to anyone you think may want to express views about Healthy Skepticism.


Systematic review: Information from Pharma and prescribing quality, quantity and cost
A major systematic review titled “Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians’ Prescribing” by Healthy Skepticism member Geoff Spurling and others has been published by PLoS Medicine.

See the review at:
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000352
and an editorial titled “Doctors and Drug Companies: Still Cozy after All These Years” by David Henry at:
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000359

Read or listen to Geoff Spurling’s interview about the study on ABC Radio National’s Health Report (Australia) at:
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/healthreport/stories/2010/3052007.htm#transcript


New Book: The Risks of Prescription Drugs
How did prescribed drugs become a leading cause of death?

A new report and book from Columbia University Press explains why an estimated 46 million Americans suffer from the side effects of prescription drugs, and 2.2 million are hospitalized. This epidemic makes prescription drugs a leading cause of death. Yet it is neglected by teachers and leaders of medicine, nursing, epidemiology, health & society, and public health.

Edited and co-authored by Donald Light, The Risks of Prescription Drugs describes how most drugs approved by regulators provide few if any advantages over existing drugs to offset their risks of side effects. Women, vulnerable elders, and people with disabilities are most affected. The book identifies the Risk Proliferation Syndrome, a set of institutional practices that maximizes the number of people exposed to drugs of little benefit but substantial risks.

Most side effects are mild but can impair judgment, mood, or coordination. Falls, accidents, and other kinds of injury may result. About 1 in 5 new drugs causes enough harm to receive a warning or be withdrawn in the first decade of use.

Health policy experts Howard Brody, Peter Conrad, Allan Horwitz, Donald Light, and Cheryl Stults describe the proliferation of new “diseases” and health conditions that greatly increase the number of people expose to adverse side effects.  A concluding chapter on health policy recommends how rules and incentives can be changed to make drugs safer. 

Paper $15.00 167 pages ISBN:  9780-231-14693-7   Hardcover $46.00
Available online at http://www.cup.columbia.edu/. Type “Risks of Prescription Drugs” in search box.

FOR STUDENTS   Use The Risks of Prescription Drugs as a short supplement to courses in public health, epidemiology, health and aging, gender, disability, medical sociology, and minority studies. For an examination copy for course adoptions, go to http://www.cup.columbia.edu/static/examdesk. To request a review copy, write to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Symposium: To Do No Harm, Toronto, 29 November 2010
The UBC Pharmaceutical Policy Research Collaboration together with researchers from an international study on Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives and Patient Safety present a symposium:
To Do No Harm: Regulation of pharmaceutical promotion and protection of patient health

Monday, November 29, 2010 from 9 am to 5 pm
Four Seasons Hotel, 21 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

For more information and to register online, see Upcoming Events at: http://www.pharmaceuticalpolicy.ca/
Contact: Research Coordinator Ellen Reynolds at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone +1.778.430‐2180


Conference: Towards New Models of Innovation, Brussels, 18 November 2010
Can We Afford the Current Model of Medical Innovation?

18 November 2010, 09:00 – 13:50
European Parliament, Brussels

To register for this event, please request a registration form from Marine Avrillon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


If you want to be removed from this mailing list, please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

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Update 2010-09-14

European tour

HS Director, Peter R Mansfield and his wife, HS Admin Assistant, Robyn Clothier fly to Europe today. Peter will speak at the following meetings:

Bologna, Italy 24 September
Seminar: L’In-Formazione Sulla Salute
25 September
Workshop with Nograzie group, Informal meeting with medical students
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Newcastle, UK 2-3 October
PharmAware Meeting
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands 7-8 October
Conference: Selling Sickness
See: http://gezondescepsisnl.members.digitalus.nl/conference-2010.html

Lisbon, Portugal 9 October
Seminar: Against misleading information
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Porto, Portugal 11 October
Seminar: Information, education and research from pharmaceutical companies: We can do better!
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Kazan, Russia, 15-16 October
Conference: Quality information for quality use of medicines
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

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Update 2010-06-18

Recent announcements

A 2 day international conference in The Netherlands, a 4 day Masterclass with Ray Moynihan in Spain and a Seminar with Peter Mansfield in Portugal:


Conference Program: Selling Sickness, Amsterdam, 7-8 Oct 2010
The program has now been released for the International Conference ‘Selling Sickness’
7 and 8 October 2010 - Mövenpick Hotel, Amsterdam

What is selling sickness and is it for real?
• Where science meets marketing - Ray Moynihan
• Industry’s role in informing the public - Michel Dutrée
• DSM-V Opening Pandora’s Box - Allen Frances

What new methods are being used?
• The Dutch situation, Supervision and law enforcement - Josée Hansen
• Clinical trials as disease mongering instruments - Trudy Dehue
• Update on social media - John Mack

Learning from documented examples
• Promotion to the public: European disease awareness campaigns - Teresa Alves
• Promotion of prescription medicines to physicians and the public - Dee Mangin

Who pays the bill?
• Ethical aspects - to be confirmed
• The influence on patients - Ilaria Passarani
• The influence on rationale use of medicine - Kees de Joncheere

Redesigning the system?
• Financial and insurance aspects - to be confirmed
• Independent information for patients - Hilda Bastian
• Redesigning the incentives for the pharmaceutical industry - Dean Baker

The need for new regulations and guidelines
• Regulations on diseases promotion - Benk Korthals
• Regulation of pharmaceutical promotion - Graham Dukes
• Guidelines and HTA - to be confirmed

New responsibilities for main stakeholders?
• The industry: partner in solutions? - to be confirmed
• Should the Medicines Evaluation Board be involved? - to be confirmed
• International Cooperation - Peter Mansfield

Direct links to:
Detailed programme
Time Table of the programme
Conference registration
Call for posters


Masterclass with Ray Moynihan: Disease-mongering and public health, Mahón, Spain, 20-24 Sep 2010
The course will aim to deepen students’ understanding of the public health problem of disease-mongering: the process of widening the boundaries of illness in order to expand markets for treatments.

Seminário com Peter Mansfield: Épossível fazer melhor! Porto, Portugal 11 Oct 2010
Educação médica, formação contínua e investigação pela indústria farmacêutica: Épossível fazer melhor!
(Information, education and research from pharmaceutical companies: We can do better!)

 

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Update 2010-06-04

Recent Healthy Skepticism International News


June: Our Mom’s Story
Johanna Trimble tells the story of how her mother-in-law’s health deteriorated when she was put on many medications but improved when her health professionals agreed with the family to try a drug holiday. Then her health deteriorated again for other reasons also associated with the quality of professional care. Johanna is a member and office holder in both Patients for Patient Safety Canada and Patient Voices Network in British Columbia.

 

Recent announcements

The following 3 conferences will be held this year:


Prescription for Conflict: Should Industry Fund CME? Washington DC, June 25

An academic conference that examines and debates the question of whether industry influences CME (and if so, whether that influence can be successfully managed) willbe held at Georgetown University in Washington DC on June 25, 2010.

Joshua Sharfstein, MD, Principal Deputy Commissioner, FDA and Thomas Insel, MD, Director, National Institute of Mental Health, have recently been added to an outstanding line-up of speakers.

The conference is a collaborative effort of GUMC’s PharmedOut with the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Continuing education credits for physicians and nurses are free with registration.

Please consider posting a flyer at your institution:
http://www.pharmedout.org/RxforConflictFlyer1pg.pdf
Updates and conference materials will be at the conference website
http://pharmedout.org/conference.htm

Registration information:
https://alumni.georgetown.edu/default.aspx?Page=EVNTEventDetail&EventID=1847


Science, clinical practice and psychotropic drugs, Bruxelles Oct 12

In recent years, the overprescription of psychiatric drugs has become the subject of frequent public debate in Europe and the US. In March 2010, the Belgian Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, announced to the Senate that a plan to tackle the overconsumption of psychotropic drugs was in preparation.

The symposium will attempt to analyse this social phenomenon along two different lines:
* The first issue to be addressed is the scientific basis for the prescription of these drugs; how was it constructed and is there any scope for questioning its validity?
* The second issue concerns the question of disease categorization, the distinction between mental pathology and the ups and downs of daily life, and the impact of disease-mongering on how we perceive ourselves.

For further information and registration, please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Quality information for quality use of medicines, Kazan Oct 15-16

The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tatarstan, The Administration of the Federal surveillance services in health and social development in the Republic of Tatarstan, The Kazan State Medical Academy, Eurasian academy of medical sciences, and GEOTAR publishing group are organising an International Conference «Quality information – for quality use of medicines» timed to the 25th anniversary of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy of the KSMA and to the 10th anniversary of formulary system implementation in the Republic of Tatarstan in the framework of the WHO Essential Medicines Concept.

On-line submission of abstracts and on-line registration for the conference are at:
http://evidence.edu.mhost.ru/conferen/

 

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Update 2010-05-18

Recent Announcements

Call for conference posters and journal papers
Call for posters for the Selling Sickness conference (Amsterdam October 7-8, 2010) and papers for a theme issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health scope to include consumer health
Beginning in 2011, the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health is expanding its scope to include consumer health, a rubric defined to include the aspects of human disease and injury that are determined or influenced by exposure to consumer goods and their components, including pharmaceuticals, food additives, and other purchased products.

New book - A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly
John Sloan has announced a new book: “A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly”.

Conference in Hyderabad: Pharmaceuticals in Developing and Emerging Economies
Conference 2010:  Pharmaceuticals in Developing and Emerging Economies: Production, Innovation, and Access to Medicines in the Wake of TRIPS
Friday 17 September 2010 - Sunday 19 September 2010
Venue: University of Hyderabad, India


Recent HS International News

April: Listening to profits
As the disturbing growth in treatment of children for bipolar disorder shows, psychiatry’s overreliance on drugs – and especially newer, less effective and less well-tested drugs – is needlessly putting patients at risk, writes psychiatrist Nicholas Z. Rosenlicht in San Francisco. Child and adolescent psychiatrist Peter Parry responds to Nicholas Rosenlicht’s article.

May: Variables that predict belief in the appropriateness of drugs
This months issue was first presented as a poster at the Australian National Medicines Symposium August 2000 and is now being made available on the internet. It is an analysis by Peter R Mansfield of responses to an educational case study for general practitioners he wrote for the Australian National Prescribing Service in 1999.

 

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Update 2010-04-16

Updates return

This is the first Healthy Skepticism Update since September 2009. We apologise for the delay. We have been busy moving to our new website. Now that the move is almost complete we will be producing Updates about once a month.


New website

Our new website has many new features. Please see for yourself at: www.healthyskepticism.org
If you have not yet logged into the new website you will need to get your new username and password by visiting our website and clicking on:
Don’t know your username or password?
If you have any problems please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Recent Announcements

Registration open for the Selling Sickness conference, Amsterdam Oct 7-8
Registration NOW OPEN!!
The topics - confirmed speakers - the rates - how to register - call for posters - hotel booking
Read more

T Shirts now available for sale
Healthy Skepticism T Shirts are now available for sale from Remo General Store

25 June 2010 - Prescription for Conflict: Should Industry Fund Continuing Medical Education?
A conference hosted by PharmedOut
Friday, June 25, 2010
Georgetown University Intercultural Center, Washington DC


New AdWatch issues

2010 April, USA: Wyeth’s Pristiq® (desvenlafaxine) for major depressive disorder

2009 October, USA: Amylin and Eli Lilly’s Byetta® (exenatide injection) for type 2 diabetes


Recent HS International News

March: Whose bread I eat, his song I sing
by Julian Burnside QC
Julian Burnside is a prominent Australian barrister. In 2009 he represented the lead plaintiff in a class action against Merck concerning the effects of Vioxx. This is an excerpted version of the keynote address he gave at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress in Adelaide on 28 May 2009.

February: Paxil Study 329: Paroxetine vs Imipramine vs Placebo in Adolescents
by Jon Jureidini
Jon has collected a set of internal pharmaceutical company documents about study 329 that at now in the public domain following litigation.

December: Internal company documents regarding 3 atypical antipsychotic drugs
by Peter Parry and Glen Spielmans
Peter and Glen have created a set of PowerPoint files of the so called “Zyprexa documents”. These are examples of internal pharmaceutical company (in this case Eli-Lilly) documents that have been subpoenaed to court cases.

November: Big Pharma Beaten
by Steindór J. Erlingsson
GSK in Iceland forced to withdraw a drug-promoting depression booklet

 

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Update 2009-09-20

Healthy Skepticism Update September 2009

Recently posted in Healthy Skepticism International News ...

October 2009 Vol 27 No 10
In the Face of Swine Flu, Common Sense and Science
by Juan Gérvas
Juan cuts throught the hype and hysteria to look calmly at the facts on influenza A (H1N1). Healthy Skepticism is proud to be publishing this in 6 languages.

September 2009 Vol 27 No 9
The Emperor’s New Analyses
Vance Berger and Anh-Chi Do call for increased use of more reliable statistical tests for analysis of clinical trials.

...and in Adwatch.
Lescol (fluvastatin) from Novartis
From the April 2008 issue of Rivista SIMG (Journal of the Italian Society of General Pratictioners), this advertisement shows how powerful images can be.

"Regulating Pharmaceuticals" Discussion 24 September
Australian subscribers are reminded that Healthy Skepticism is hosting an interactive panel discussion on pharmaceutical regulation this coming Thursday, 24 September, at the Women's & Children's Hospital, North Adelaide at 4.00pm.  Please note that, contrary to previous notification, we are uncertain whether a representative from Medicines Australian will attend. However, the panel will now include the Hon Mark Butler MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, who has portfolio responsibilty for the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Anyone interested is welcome. Please pass details on to South Australian colleagues. Fliers available at:
www.healthyskepticism.org/files/events/Regulating-pharmaceuticals.pdf www.healthyskepticism.org/files/events/Regulating-pharmaceuticals.doc

HAI Europe Seminar 23 October
Health Action International are holding a similarly open workshop entitled EU Policy in Action: In Whose Interests? on 23 October 2009 in Brussels. It will examine the European Union’s policies and actions in relation to medicines and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to publicly debate their views. Further details and the registration form are on the HAI Europe website.

Congratulations, Alison!
The US National Association of Science Writers has given Alison Bass a 2009 Science in Society Journalism Award for her book Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial. Side Effects tells how GlaxoSmithKline systematically misled prescribers and consumers about the safety and efficacy of Paxil (paroxetine), and how this deception was uncovered.

 

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Update 2009-08-12

Healthy Skepticism Update July - August 2009

Recently posted in Healthy Skepticism International News ...

July 2009 Vol 27 No 7
Advanced Cell Therapeutics
"Maybe this was the miracle I had dreamed about for years ..." Jan Perkins' story of macular degeneration and experiences at the hands of Advanced Cell Therapeutics.

August 2009 Vol 27 No 8
Review of Questionable Behaviour by Robert Spillane
Spillane's new book, Questionable behaviour: psychology's undermining of personal responsibility, critiques some well-known schools of thought in psychology. Sami Timimi critiques the critiques.

Healthy Skepticism members have been involved with many other interesting articles published elsewhere recently. Here is a selection of titles with links to the citations in the Healthy Skepticism library:
Unpicking claims in the media about suicide and depression
Elsevier should divest itself of either its medical publishing or pharmaceutical services division
Quality of Pharmaceutical Advertisements in Medical Journals: A Systematic Review
Call for global health-systems impact assessments.
Preserving objectivity in medical education
Is the Diovantage® Patient Support Program Direct-To-Consumer Advertising?

Recent Australian activities

Anti-psychotic marketing – Dr Peter Parry and A/Prof Glen Spielmans have prepared a series of presentations summarizing revelations from subpoenaed company documents about the marketing of antipsychotics. An abbreviated version was presented at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Congress in Adelaide in May. All the presentations are available here: http://www.healthyskepticism.org/documents/Antipsychotics.php

SBS Insight – Healthy Skepticism Chair, Dr Jon Jureidini, participated in a televised discussion about doctor/industry interactions on May 26th. Other participants included representatives from Medicines Australia, Choice, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, Pfizer, and several universities, as well as medical students, general practitioners and patients. The transcript can be accessed at: http://news.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/index/id/67#transcript

The invisible infection of bias – In an article published on ABC Unleashed, Healthy Skepticism director, Dr Peter Mansfield, has laid out the metaphor he has been using in his talks, which has helped doctors accept the possibility that promotion might influence prescribing negatively. He likens the transmission of bias in promotional information, which is often undetected by doctors, with the transmission of invisible bacteria by doctors before the germ theory of disease was accepted. In both cases doctors have been offended by suggestions that their behaviour could be detrimental to their patients until the causative agent was recognized. Full article here: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2579404.htm

Pharma Phacts –Medical students from 19 Australian universities have set up this new branch of Healthy Skepticism aiming to increase awareness among their fellow students about the pharmaceutical industry and its interactions with the medical profession. Officially launched in July, Pharma Phacts has a Facebook presence at:
http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=pharma+phacts&init=quick#/group.php?gid=88801217099
and a web-site at:
http://healthyskepticism.org/pharmaphacts
Members will host panel discussions at several universities soon.

New web-site

The Healthy Skepticism web-site is being redeveloped at: www.healthyskepticism.org. Please note that the new site's URL has a 'c' where the current site has a 'k'. When the up-grade is complete, both spellings will point to the new site. Our library has been moved to the new site already. The library home page is now:
www.healthyskepticism.org/global/library
Items are now being added only to the new library. Many other functions of the new site are not yet operational. Please be patient during the transition.

Healthy Skepticism International Conference

There will be international Healthy Skepticism conference in The Netherlands in 2010, probably on 7 and 8 October. Next month you will be invited to participate in a survey to inform planning for this exciting event.

 

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Update 2009-05-06

Healthy Skepticism Update May - June 2009

Recently posted in Healthy Skepticism International News ...


June 2009 Vol 27 No 6
Beyond the JAMA “Flap” (.pdf 255 Kb)

by Laura Boylan

A hot debate is going on about the Journal of the American Medical Association’s response to failure to disclose conflict of interest by Robert Robinson, the first author of a trial of escitalopram vs. problem solving therapy vs. placebo to prevent post stroke depression. This issue of Healthy Skepticism International News goes beyond that debate to present a time line of key events in the history of that trial.

May 2009 Vol 27 No 5
Proposal for an internet database of phamaceutical advertisements (.pdf 985 Kb)
by Staffan Svensson

"Consumers in one country are therefore often unaware of what goes on elsewhere, so the whole intellectual process of assessing the ads has to be started anew in each place. A system for making information about ads easily available could reduce such duplication of efforts and faciliate ad surveillance."

 In other news ...

"Positioning Detrol (creating a disease)" has been gaining attention since it was uploaded to the Healthy Skepticism gallery by a member recently.  This presentation by Pharmacia to the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group in 2002 outlines the strategies used to convert a "niche product into a Mass Marketing Opportunity". You can view it at: http://healthyskepticism.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/83


 

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Update 2009-04-24

Healthy Skepticism Update April 2009

Surrogate endpoints
In randomised controlled trials, the use of surrogate end points may be misleading when they do not translate into clinically important outcomes, or when the clinical outcome is different from what was expected. In this month’s Healthy Skepticism International News, Staffan Svensson brings us a collection of failed surrogate end points to illustrate the problem. You can find them here: http://healthyskepticism.org/news.php

Submission to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration
The TGA is Australia’s regulatory agency for medical drugs and devices. Healthy Skepticism members recently contributed comments on its Draft Guideline for Levels and Kinds of Evidence for Listed Medicines with Indications and Claims for Weight Loss. (“Listed” medicines in Australia, as opposed to “registered” medicines, are considered to be of lower risk. They are some of the medicines sold without prescription, and they contain ingredients assessed by the TGA for quality and safety, but not efficacy.) Here is a summary of the recommendations in Healthy Skepticism’s submission:
 
Given the significant health burden of overweight and obese Australians and the false hope that most listed weight-loss products offer, Healthy Skepticism recommends that:

     
  • The European Medicines Agency standard of evidence for evaluating medicinal products used in weight control be followed; not the weaker standards proposed in the TGA draft guidelines;
  •  
  • The TGA notify industry that the final (strengthened) guidelines will apply to all existing listed products within 6 months of being finalised; that sponsors of these products must either de-list non-conforming products from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (thereby taking them off the market) or submit evidence (according to the new guidelines) that substantiates their efficacy; failure to do so will result in automatic loss of the product listing.
  •  
  • The government adds “weight loss” to the Restricted Representations in Appendix 6, Part 2, of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2007 (the list of diseases, conditions, ailments and defects for which the advertising of serious forms is restricted). This would mean that these products could no longer be promoted to the public until such time as the sponsor sought approval from the TGA; such approval requires the sponsor to convince an appropriate expert committee of the efficacy of their product.
  •  
  • The evidence supporting claims made for listed products (which sponsors certify they hold) be made available for public scrutiny.
  •  
  • Claims relying on “medium level” evidence be qualified by use of the word "may", that is "May aid/assist in the management of a named symptom/disease/ disorder/condition".
  •  
  • This submission, and all others received on this topic, be made publicly available on the TGA web site to facilitate open and transparent debate.

 

 

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Update 2009-03-10

Healthy Skepticism Update March 2009





Latest Healthy Skepticism International News Editions



March 2009 Vol 27 No 3

Advertising of therapeutic goods in Australia – a case study of FatMagnet (.pdf 773 Kb)

by Ken Harvey

"...This case study is just the latest of many in which sponsors of complementary medicine have ignored the determinations of the CRP and the TGA has also failed to follow-up or take any action in these matters…"



February 2009 Vol 27 No 2

Introduction to On speed : the many lives of amphetamine

by Nicolas Rasmussen

Before there was Prozac, and even before the tranquilizer craze of the 1950s, there was Benzedrine, Dexadrine, and Drinamyl (Dexamyl). Energetically marketed as the first outpatient antidepressant by the pharmaceutical industry in the 1940s, and using remarkably modern strategies including pharma-controlled clinical research by some of the top names in academic medicine, amphetamine blazed the trail for all subsequent mass-market psychiatric pharmaceuticals. It also created an iatrogenic addiction epidemic that seems to have been conveniently forgotten by today’s supporters of stimulant medications and amphetamine-class weight loss drugs. Is this grim history repeating itself? This month’s international news reproduces the introduction to On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine.



January 2009 Vol 27 No 1

International Society of Drug Bulletins General Assembly

Summary by David Menkes representing Healthy Skepticism



In other news…



Review of Therapeutics Initiative

Therapeutics Initiative (TI www.ti.ubc.ca) is based in British Colombia, Canada. Its mission is to provide medical doctors and pharmacists with up-to-date, evidence-based, practical information on prescription drug therapy.



Two years ago TI was threatened with withdrawal of funding. Following protests from many people and groups around the world, including Healthy Skepticism, the provincial government announced that instead of withdrawing funding there would be an academic review.



Last year many HS members signed a letter to the review in support of TI.



Recently the review report was released. It recommended ongoing funding of TI.



The response from TI states that: "We are in overall agreement with the conclusions and recommendations of this review and look forward towards expanding, enhancing and restructuring the activities of the Therapeutics Initiative as suggested by the reviewers."



The reviewers found that TI has a very high reputation internationally. It seems that finding may have helped lead to a positive outcome.



Healthy Skepticism on Facebook

Thanks to Dr Elaine Leung, who has volunteered to administer the group there, Healthy Skepticism now has a Facebook presence:

http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=19289777252


 

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Update 2008-09-17

Healthy Skepticism Update September 2008

This months’s International News feature

“Is the American Academy of Pediatrics Helping Babies R Us Promote Formula?”
Matt Anderson’s article examines the confusing involvement of the AAP in a catalogue distributed to doctor’s waiting rooms amongst other places. See if you think the AAP should have endorsed information in this booklet, when the primary aim of the publication was to advance sales, including sales of breast-milk substitutes, rather than to educate.
http://healthyskepticism.org/news.php


Healthy Skepticism, the MHRA and paroxetine

Earlier this year, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency commissioned Market Sentinel to conduct a stakeholder analysis, looking at web traffic about Seroxat (paroxetine). The report shows that Healthy Skepticism has played an important role. This is an extract:

“The key table is perhaps the “Betweenness” table showing as it does how the Healthy Skepticism blog (sic) is present as a link in an astonishing 29.85% of all the “random walks” in this network and Aubrey Blumsohn’s Scientist Misconduct blog has 28.54% and the Fiddaman blog is not far behind on 18.08%. The MHRA is present on 12.01% of walks and the BMJ and GSK trail far behind, with scores around 6%. In an analysis of a mainstream topic one would expect the Betweenness rankings to be dominated by conventional media (e.g. BBC) or generalist information sites. It is highly unusual that sites with strong agendas occupy this position…The Betweenness scores tell us that the running in this story has been dominated by bloggers. They are linking the vast majority of influencers and providing information to them…”


The full report is available here: http://www.mhra.gov.uk/home/groups/es-foi/documents/foidisclosure/con025748.pdf (Warning: 12.6MB file. Report begins on p.217.)

Healthy Skepticism’s prominence in this report is due mostly to our work to call attention to the lack of evidence of efficacy and safety of paroxetine and other SSRIs used for depression in adolescents. See, for example: http://healthyskepticism.org/documents/PaxilStudy329.php and:

Jureidini JN, McHenry LB, Mansfield PR.
Clinical trials and drug promotion: Selective reporting of study 329
International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine 2008 May;20(1-2):73-81

Shahram Ahari at IFMSA Conference

You will recall we asked recently for donations to enable former drug rep, Shahram Ahari, to speak at the International Federation of Medical Students Associations General Assembly. Here are some extracts from his report:

“Eight years ago I left my job as a former sales representative for Eli Lilly who sold Prozac and Zyprexa well to work in public health and health advocacy. The past 2 years in particular I have focused on issues related to pharma. My primary area of interest (and knowledge) is drug marketing; secondary is global health issues related to medicines. I lecture health professionals, speak to the press, defend helpful legislation and advise law makers on relevant policies as my preferred methods of advocacy…

Right now, I’m at the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) General Assembly Conference (compliments of several donations from Healthy Skepticism members who have funded my travel) where I’ve finished a series of presentations on pharma marketing, global health and related issues - my first international presentations. The results have been excellent and we (the American Medical Students Association and I) are capitalizing on the momentum created…

My presentations have translated well and are relevant to the experiences in other countries…”

So, many thanks to those members and subscribers who helped.

Honorary membership for student campaigners

Students are very important to Healthy Skepticism. We would be grateful if you would alert student health professionals to the following new policy.
Healthy Skepticism is now offering free Honorary Membership to all student health professionals, in any country, who have contributed their time to campaigning in accord with the aims of Healthy Skepticism. This offer lasts as long as they are still students.
Honorary members have the same benefits as paid members. They can join our international email discussion list, access more of our website and can participate in elections for our management group.
If you would like to nominate a student who might like to take up this offer, or take it up yourself, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

In other news…

HealthNewsReview. Several Healthy Skepticism members have agreed to be available to journalists seeking expert sources who do not have financial ties to drug or medical device manufacturers. The list of experts compiled so far by journalists Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer is at
http://healthnewsreview.org/independentexperts.php


“Life before pharmaceutical profits! Patents can be deadly". Action against AIDS Germany have invited us all to visit http://www.aids-kampagne.de/en/home/ to learn how patents prevent access to medical care for some people, and to support this campaign. 


The New Epidemic.  DVDs of The New Epidemic are now available, and are a great tool for educating students or colleagues about the dangers of disease mongering and some of the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing strategies. The New Epidemic is 25 minutes long and uses a humorous narrative to explore the unhealthy influence that the drug industry can have over health professionals, patients and the public. Spice up your next conference or lecture - this DVD is guaranteed to generate some lively debate! To check out a promo on YouTube go to:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfPSA44y2SU
To purchase a copy, please contact producer Miranda Burne on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

 

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Update 2008-08-09



Healthy Skepticism in the Media



Recent media appearances include:

* Peter Mansfield - Salud, El Mundo, Spain, 31 May

* Ken Harvey, Jon Jureidini - Australia Talks, Radio National, Australia, 23 July: www.abc.net.au/rn/australiatalks/stories/2008/2311121.htm

* Peter Mansfield - Worldview, Chicago Public Radio, USA, 29 July: www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_WV.aspx?episode=26902



Support for the next generation of healthy skeptics



On 22 July we received a request from the American Medical Students Association for US$ 1,315 to enable a whistle-blowing former drug rep, Shahram Ahari, to speak at the General Assembly of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations. We asked our supporters for donations and are very pleased to report that have already received pledges for almost all the money needed. If you would like to make a donation to support this or other projects to help student health professionals please tell Robyn Clothier: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) how much money you would like to give and what country you live in.



Healthy Skepticism International News



Available at www.healthyskepticism.org/news.php



August 2008 Vol 26 No 8

Pushing Pills: A CHOICE Research Report

There is strong evidence to indicate that pharmaceutical promotion is not in the best interests of consumers. It can lead to inappropriate prescribing practices which expose consumers to unnecessary risk. It also may not be in the interests of taxpayers. In this report, the Australian consumers group, CHOICE, discusses the various ways pharmaceuticals are promoted to doctors. They go on to examine advertising in doctors’ publications over a 12-month period and look more closely at drugs used to treat high blood pressure.



July 2008 Vol 26 No 7

Book review By Melissa Raven

A brief review of Living under liberalism: The politics of depression in western democracies, by Pam Stavropoulos



June 2008 Vol 26 No 6

La incierta prevención del cáncer de cuello de útero con la vacuna contra el virus del papiloma humano. Rev Port Clín Geral. 2007;23: 547-55

By Juan Gérvas ‘Prevention of cervical cancer by the HPV vaccine is not definitive.’ Abstract with Eleven Questions & Answers in Spanish and English. English translation by Juan Gérvas and Joana Ramos



Many other recent publications by Healthy Skepticism members are referenced at www.healthyskepticism.org/library/byus.php



Director’s presentations in 2008



So far this year, Healthy Skepticism director Peter Mansfield has given 34 presentations and had many more conversations about drug promotion in 23 cities in Europe, Nth America and Australasia. One conversation was with Matthew Anderson who posted an entry about it on the Social Medicine blog. www.socialmedicine.org/2008/06/13/big-pharma/a-short-drive-with-healthy-skepticisms-dr-peter-mansfield/



Peter has concluded: “Whilst the details differ from place to place, the important issues are the same. Everywhere there seems to be 5 stages we need to help people to go through to help us achieve our aim of reducing harm from misleading drug promotion:



1. Becoming aware that misleading drug promotion is an important problem.

We can help by telling people about avoidable drug disasters caused by misleading promotion.



2. Understanding the problem.

Some people think the main problem is bad people intentionally causing harm. I think the main problem is unintended bias amongst good people in bad systems. People are more vulnerable to misleading promotion if they are overconfident about their ability to resist it. If people feel accused of intentionally causing harm they will respond with denial and reactance. To win support we need to help people accept that all good people, including themselves, have human strengths including potential for compassion, imagination and humour etc but also human weaknesses including vulnerability to misleading persuasion regardless of intelligence, education and good intentions etc.



3. Deciding what changes are needed.

If the problem was only bad people then the solution would be easy: replace them. If part of the problem is good people in bad systems then we must change the systems. Doing so would solve the bad people problem also. Many people are working on understanding the details of the problems but few people are working on developing solutions. Around the world there has been high levels of agreement with the Healthy Skepticism reform agenda for system changes: improve regulation, improve incentive systems, improve treatment decision-making.



4. Becoming optimistic.

Many people are pessimistic that the changes needed are achievable. Such pessimism can be self-fulfilling by reducing willingness to act in ways that could be effective or provide opportunities for learning. Some people can be helped to become more optimistic by being told about the experiences of people I met in Berlin and Belfast. In those cities change was like an earthquake - it seemed that nothing was happening but forces were building up that gradually reached a tipping point releasing sudden dramatic changes that surprised all but the most optimistic.



5. Deciding to work alone or together.

Inevitably many of the leaders working on drug promotion issues are independent thinkers who do not naturally work together. It is useful to consider:

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

- African proverb”



If you want to go together, please get more involved in Healthy Skepticism Inc. To do that - please contact Robyn Clothier .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

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Update 2008-04-09

HS Publications
Recent Healthy Skepticism News issues include an update from Janne Larsson about reports of harmful effects from the ADHD drug Strattera (atomoxetine) and the response of regulatory authorities so far. Joel Lexchin has also argued that the priorities of Health Canada are skewed in favour of rapid approval of new drugs at the expense of the postmarketing surveillance in a submission to a Canadian House of Commons standing committee. Both pieces are at: http://healthyskepticism.org/news.php

A slew of interesting new books:
  • Boston Women's Health Book Collective
    Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth
    Touchstone; Mar 2008
    “… will help you sort fact from fiction, giving you the most accurate research, up-to-date information, and the firsthand experiences of numerous women who have been exactly where you are today.”
  • Orla O'Donovan and Kathy Glavanis-Grantham (Eds.)
    Power, Politics and Pharmaceuticals: Drug Regulation in Ireland in the Global Context
    Cork University Press; Feb 2008
    “Public concerns about the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry have intensified in recent years … Paradoxically, these concerns centre on the over-consumption of medicines of dubious benefit in Western societies, and lack of access to essential medicines in the Global South…”  (Several chapters written by Healthy Skepticism members.)
  • Barton Cobert and Pierre Biron
    Practical Drug Safety from A to Z
    Jones and Bartlett Publishers; Jan 2008
    "... guide to drug safety monitoring (pharmacovigilance), covering literally, the "A to Z" of maintaining drug safety..."
  • Joanna Moncrieff.
    The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment
    Palgrave Macmillan; Dec 2007
    “This book exposes the traditional view that psychiatric drugs correct chemical imbalances as a dangerous fraud. It traces the emergence of this view and the way it supported the vested interests of the psychiatric profession, the pharmaceutical industry and the modern state…”
  • Alan Cassels
    The ABCs of Disease Mongering: An epidemic in 26 letters.
    Emdash Publishing; Dec 2007
    “Alan Cassels, co-author of the international bestseller Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning Us All into Patients, returns to his favourite topic armed with outrageous humour and even more outrageous facts…”
  • Kimberly Cheryl
    Escape From The Pharma Cartel
    Outskirts Press; Oct 2007
    “… takes the reader on a shocking, revealing, and provocative tour of the pharmaceutical industry of America as only an insider can.”

    New resources from PharmedOut
    Two new free, pharma-free, web-based CME modules are accessible via the PharmedOut web-site. Drug Approval in the US provides a brief history of the FDA and describes the process by which new drugs are approved in the US, and Generic Drugs: Prescribing Sensibly describes how generic drugs are approved, and how they compare to branded drugs. “We want to educate doctors about the fact that generic drugs are held to exactly the same standard as different batches of branded drugs,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, director of PharmedOut and Associate Professor of Physiology & Biophysics at Georgetown University.

    Also on offer at PharmedOut are a power-point presentation titled The Physician-Pharma Relationship suitable for grand rounds, and a guide developed in conjunction with the American Medical Students Association, called How to Hold Pharma-free Meetings. All well worth a visit to: http://www.pharmedout.org/index.htm

     

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    Update 2008-03-16

    Recent Publications

    Healthy Skepticism members have hit the ground running in 2008 with journal publications covering nurses and the pharmaceutical industry, the regulation of complementary medicines, advertisements in clinical software, and pharmaceutical promotion expenditures in the US, amongst other things.



    Two editions of Healthy Skepticism International News have also been published on the web-site, one responding to misinformation about the HPV vaccine in Canada and the other to a meta-analysis published last year in JAMA of the studies of antidepressants in children. If you haven’t yet caught up with these, they can all be accessed via: http://healthyskepticism.org/new.php



    Director’s speaking tour

    Preparations are well underway for the tour of Europe and North America by HS Director, Dr Peter Mansfield in April, May and June. He will be speaking in numerous cities and covering various aspects of the influence of pharmaceutical promotion on healthcare. Once the details have been finalised, we will let subscribers know, so that you can organise to attend one of these meetings if you have the opportunity.



    Visit to Adelaide by Joel Lexchin

    Healthy Skepticism is an international organisation but it is based in Adelaide, in South Australia. Members of the management group conduct most business by email, so we are very pleased when we are able to see them in person. One member, Dr Joel Lexchin, is visiting Adelaide on sabbatical currently. Joel is a lecturer in health policy and management at York University, Toronto and an emergency physician. We look forward to working with him more closely over the next few months.



    Vale Barbara Seaman

    Barbara Seaman, 72, journalist, activist and HS member, died on Feb. 27 at her home in Manhattan.

    Barbara had worked hard on pharmaceutical safety issues ever since the early days of the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy. Her main concern was that women have access to more information with which to make their own decisions. She was the author of several influential books and co-founder of the National Women’s Health Network in Washington, DC.

    For a copy of the Washington Post obituary for Barbara see:

    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.obituaries/browse_thread/thread/cb6adfc8c92d4b76/9edf7067bfbf996d



    US Physician Payments Sunshine Act

    In the US Congress last week, the House counterpart to the Senate Physician Payments Sunshine Act was introduced. Both House and Senate bills would require pharmaceutical and medical device companies to disclose gifts and payments to doctors. The Prescription Project is coordinating a national coalition to support these measures. US-based groups and individuals are invited to join. For more detail, please visit:

    http://prescriptionproject.org/newscenter?id=0049

    http://www.prescriptionproject.org/assets/pdfs/APC_invite_RxP.pdf



    Maintaining the HS Library

    The HS Library is an important database of articles relevant to drug promotion, accessed over a million times per year by people from all around the world. However, it requires quite a bit of work to keep it up-to-date. At present we are seeking more volunteers for “media monitoring”, and would like to increase our coverage of non-English sources. If you think you could help with this work, or would like to make a donation to help keep the library going, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Many thanks to those who already send us articles of interest or have recently offered to help).

     

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    Update 2007-11-18

    New Gallery
    Healthy Skepticism's new Gallery is now avalaible for viewing at: www.healthyskepticism.org/gallery
    This is a good place to share picture, video, audio and presentation files relevant to drug promotion.

    If you would like to post a file, please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


    New Videos:
    A new epidemic
    Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning....feeling unmotivated at work? You may have Motivational Deficiency Disorder. A short video about this new epidemic by investigative journalist Miranda Burne is now available to all in the Documentaries section of our Gallery at this link.

    Pharma insider
    PharmedOut have posted two videos on YouTube of Douglas Melnick, a former pharma insider, telling Adriane Fugh-Berman about drug promotion techniques. See: Pharma Insider Part 1 and Pharma Insider Part 2


    HS International News: The dilemma for young doctors created by pharma funding of education
    In the September 2007 issue Portuguese GP registrar, Tiago Villanueva, discusses the difficult dilemma for young doctors created when the government does not fund education adequately but they can access education funded by industry. See: Pharma money: the least common denominator

    In the October issue young Australian GP academic Geoff Spurling expresses different views about that dilemma. See: A response to Tiago Villanueva


    Consumers International's Marketing Overdose campaign
    Marketing Overdose is a new campaign organised by Consumers International.
    The aim is to expose examples of irresponsible drug marketing and campaign for effective rules and regulations to ensure doctors and the public have access to independent, accurate and up-to-date information.

    The campaign website has a report titled Drugs, doctors and dinners (1.5 Mb pdf file) highlighting irresponsible drug marketing to doctors in developing countries. This report is based on a larger report produced for Consumers International by Healthy Skepticism.


    HS management group re-elected
    At our Annual General Meeting on 1 November our management group was re-elected unopposed:
    The management group is:
    Dr Heather Carter (General practice) Adelaide, Australia
    A/Prof Jon Jureidini (Child psychiatry) Adelaide, Australia
    Prof Joel Lexchin (Emergency Medicine and Health Policy) Toronto, Canada
    Dr Dee Mangin (General Practice) Christchurch, New Zealand
    Dr Peter Mansfield (General practice) Willunga, Australia
    Ms Joana Ramos (Social Work and Health Policy) Seattle, USA
    Ms Melissa Raven (Public Health) Adelaide, Australia
    Mr Jörg Schaaber (Sociology and Journalism) Bielefeld, Germany
    Dr Agnés Vitry (Pharmacy) Adelaide, Australia
     

     

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    Update 2007-08-22

    International News
    The July 2007 issue is a review by David P. Ellis of John Watkins’ new book Healing schizophrenia: using medication wisely.
    Visit: this link


    AdWatch
    The August 2007 issue was written in response to a subscriber’s comments regarding the March 2007 AdWatch about GlaxoSmithKline’s advertising of rosiglitazone (Avandia) in Australia.
    Visit: this link


    A new service from Healthy Skepticism: HS Headlines
    The new HS Headlines email newsletter is now available for our Paid Subscribers and Members only. This almost daily service provides links to articles we have just added to the Healthy Skepticism library. Many will have been published less than 48 hours before.

    To receive HS Headlines, tick the relevant box at the bottom of [PREFERENCES] then click "Update".


    Who gets what from Healthy Skepticism?
    The main services now provided by Healthy Skepticism now include:

    Everyone who has internet access can visit the HS website including our library which now has over 11,000 references relevant to drug promotion.

    Free subscribers also receive Healthy Skepticism Updates about once a month.

    Paid subscribers and Members can opt to receive HS Headlines.

    Members can opt to be on our HSmembers email discussion list and access the Members Only areas of our Fora. Our management group is elected from and by our members.

    Additional services are being developed and will be announced later this year.

    Healthy Skepticism founder will tour Europe, Nth America and New Zealand in 2008
    Peter Mansfield will visit Europe, Nth America and New Zealand sometime around April, May or June 2008. If you would like him to visit you please contact him.

     

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    Update 2007-07-20

    HS Int News
    Two new Healthy Skepticism International News issues have now been added to our website.

    May 2007 Vol 25 No 5
    Is it insulting to suggest that health professionals are influenced by drug promotion?
    By Peter R Mansfield
    One of the most important barriers to healthy skepticism about drug promotion is the belief that to suggest that health professionals are influenced is to insult them. Some arguments for overcoming that barrier are presented in this issue. Peter has found these arguments to be effective for use in presentations to health professionals.

    April 2007 Vol 25 No 4
    Regulation of Homeopathic Products
    By Ken Harvey
    Ken questions whether companies are misusing the regulations that govern homeopathic products in Australia in order to market pharmacologically inactive substances labelled as DHEA, HGH and melatonin.


    Call for papers
    If you  have written, or would like to write, a paper relevant to misleading drug promotion and would like to have it published in Healthy Skepticism International News, please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


    Special thanks to Judy Norsigian
    We thank Judy for her article "Misleading Ads and How They Hurt Us" published by The Women's Media Center (USA) on 25 May 2007. We usually get one or two new subscribers every day but there has been a surge of new subscribers since Judy's article was published.
    See: www.womensmediacenter.com/ex/052207.html


    Who is Sebastian?
    For technical reasons to do with spam filters etc from now on Healthy Skepticism Updates will come to you from: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Sebastian is named in honour of one of the pioneers of moderate skepticism: Sebastian Castellio 1515–1563. Please don't send emails to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    If you want to contact us please use one of the addresses given below:

     

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    Update 2007-07-03

    Two new publications by Healthy Skepticism have been added to the web-site:

    Is consumer health information by drug companies trustworthy? The most recent AdWatch ( http://healthyskepticism.org/global/adwatch/issue/au2007-06 ), which analyses an advertorial by Pfizer published in the Australian edition of the Readers Digest in March 2007, suggests not. This advertorial is presented as consumer information on arthritis but hardly hides its main aim: half of the brochure promotes Cox-2 inhibitors, which include Pfizer’s Celebrex® (celecoxib), in a country where direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications is illegal.

    In the latest edition of Healthy Skepticism International News ( http://healthyskepticism.org/global/news/int/hsin07-06 ), Gregory Pawelski writes about the conflicts of interest inherent in the US Chemotherapy Concession, from the experience of supporting his wife as she struggled with ovarian cancer.

    Also of interest is a documentary launched on June 18 called “PERx: Prescribing Evidence-Based Therapies” and the accompanying interactive website ( http://www.perxinfo.org ). Developed by Elissa Ladd, Clinical Assistant Professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, with filmaker, consumer advocate, and former drug rep Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, PERx illustrates how pharmaceutical industry influence affects the prescribing behaviors of clinicians, emphasizes the ethical implications of these practices and offers strategies to enhance evidence-based practice.

     

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    Update 2007-05-31

    What is the difference between free subscribers, paid subscribers and members?
    There are 3 main groups who receive Healthy Skepticism Updates:
    1. Free subscribers
    2. Paid subscribers whose payments provide the core funding for Healthy Skepticism.
    3. Members who are paid or honorary subscribers who state that they support our aims (see below) and have been nominated by 2 other members. HS members own the association and elect the management group. You are welcome to apply for membership even if you don’t know any current members to nominate you. We will find a way to get to know you so we can. One way is for us to read your curriculum vitae.


    HS members’ discussion list
    Some of the things we do don’t work, others do. Last year we set up a web discussion forum for our members. There have been very few contributions to that forum. By contrast one of the most successful things we have done this year is set up an email discussion list for our members. The feedback from members is that many are finding the list very helpful.

    If you are not receiving HSmembers emails, that is because you are one of many who are not currently a member or one of very few members who have opted out.

    If you are interested in becoming a HS member please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


    New video: "Drug Reps Talk Shop"
    PharmedOut's new video, "Drug Reps Talk Shop", is now available at:
    http://pharmedout.org.
    The video features two drug sales reps talking about how they use prescribing data and samples to influence what drugs physicians give to patients. Here's a quote about the real purpose of samples: "first one's free, then you pay, then you're hooked."


    Propaganda Conference
    Strathclyde University in Glasgow is organising a conference on propaganda to take place on 7-9 September 2007.
    See: http://gs.strath.ac.uk/content/view/240/130/
    One of the key themes of the conference is disease mongering. Of particular interest, in the context of the conference overall, is the role of the media, including both mass and academic media, in disease mongering. The increasing involvement of patient groups in working with the pharmaceutical industry is of interest, as is the more general question of the regulation of industry activity, particularly in relation to drug promotion. The organisers are calling for abstracts to be submitted by 31 May.


    Consumer International's World Conference
    CI's World Congress 2007 will be in Sydney from 29 October - 1 November 2007.
    See: www.consumersinternational.org
    There will be a special session on The Ethics of Drug Promotion. Confirmed speakers for this session include Ray Moynihan (award winning health journalist) and Harvey Bale (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations).


    Checking your occupation
    We are keen to have correct records re everyone’s occupation so that we can send emails that are relevant to different occupational groups to all the right people but only the right people.

    The illusion of invulnerability
    On 5 May the British Medical Journal published arguments for and against patient groups accepting money from drug companies. The No case was written by Barbara Mintzes of the Therapeutics Initiative, Vancouver and Health Action International, Amsterdam. The Yes case was written by Alastair Kent of the Genetic Interest Group, London. The BMJ has published, as a letter to the editor, a shortened version of the following rapid response to Alastair Kent from Peter Mansfield.

    Alastair Kent claims that “Patient groups are not naïve. They value their independence fiercely and are quite capable of spotting the strings that may be attached to funding.” Many doctors have similar overconfident beliefs about invulnerability to being misled by drug companies.<1> This illusion of invulnerability actually increases vulnerability.<2>

    Drug companies sponsor patients’ groups as a way of promoting drugs to fulfill their legal requirement to maximize profits.<3> Drug companies can not influence all of the people all of the time but if their investments in any type of drug promotion do not achieve competitive returns on average they are ceased.<4> I don’t know of any examples of drug companies funding patient groups except for a limited time only when a relevant patent protected drug is being promoted.

    In the 1840s doctors did not understand the risk of invisible microbes so were offended by the suggestion they should wash their hands. We are now going through a similar paradigm shift towards understanding the risk of invisible unintended bias from exposure to industry influence techniques. These techniques include manipulation of reciprocal obligation which can occur without our awareness.<5> Patient groups tend to reciprocate by lobbying governments to pay for overpriced drugs rather than lobbying the companies to reduce their prices.<6,7>

    Funding for patient groups could be increased and the alleged problems with government funding reduced by abolishing patents to allow price competition and using the savings to fund research, education, health promotion and other activities of patients groups via competitive grants.<8>

    1. Mansfield PR, Lexchin J, Wen LS, Grandori L, McCoy CP, Hoffman JR, Ramos J, Jureidini JN. Educating Health Professionals about Drug and Device Promotion: Advocates' Recommendations. PLoS Med 2006:3(11): e451
    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0030451
    2. Sagarin BJ, Cialdini RB, Rice WE, Serna SB. Dispelling the illusion of invulnerability: the motivations and mechanisms of resistance to persuasion. J Pers Soc Psychol 2002 Sep ;83(3):526-41
    3. Harnessing Patient Power: Strategies for speeding drug approval, building and retaining market share. Business Insights. 2004 Jan http://www.piribo.com/publications/regulation_policy/harnessing_patient_power.html
    4. Garai PR. Advertising and Promotion of Drugs. In: Talalay P, Editor. Drugs in Our Society. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press; 1964. http://www.healthyskepticism.org/global/news/issue/hsin03-10
    5. Dana J, Loewenstein G. A social science perspective on gifts to physicians from industry. JAMA 2003 Jul 9 ;290(2):252-5
    6. Burton B. Drug companies told that sponsoring patients' groups might help win approval for their products. BMJ 2005 Dec 10 ;331(7529):1359
    7. Ferner RE, McDowell SE. How NICE may be outflanked. BMJ 2006 May 27 ;332(7552):1268-71
    8. Mansfield P. Industry-Sponsored Research: A More Comprehensive Alternative. PLoS Med 2006 ;3(10): e463
    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0030463


    Healthy Skepticism’s aims
    1. Improving health by reducing harm from inappropriate, misleading or unethical marketing of health products or services, especially misleading pharmaceutical promotion.
    2. Investigating and communicating about marketing practices.
    3. Promoting healthy skepticism about marketing practices via advocacy, research and education.
    4. Developing, supporting and evaluating initiatives to reduce harmful marketing practices, including reform of regulations and incentives.
    5. Developing, implementing and evaluating educational strategies to improve health care decision making, including evaluation of drug promotion.
    6. Supporting compassionate, appropriate, sustainable, evidence-based health care, provided according to need, for optimal health outcomes.
    7. Providing practical opportunities to advance the aims of Healthy Skepticism Inc.

     

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    Update 2007-04-25

    TODAY IS A GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION RE ABBOTT'S BOYCOTT OF THAILAND
    The Thai government has granted of a compulsory license for manufacture of lopinavir+ritonavir (sold by Abbott as Kaletra) Abbott has responded by withdrawing all of its current drugs awaiting registration and threatening to not register any new pharmaceutical products in Thailand.
    You can read more at:
    www.abbottsgreed.com/index.php?title=April_26:_Global_Day_of_Action
    You can contribute to the day of action by sending an email to Abbott CEO Miles White via:
    http://fightglobalaids.org/action/abbott.200703.php
    If you contribute in another way please inform the Student Global AIDS Campaign at:
    www.fightglobalaids.org/action/abbott.tellus.200704.php


    HEALTHY SKEPTICISM INTERNATIONAL NEWS
    March 2007 Vol 25 No 3
    Letter from Novartis re litigation against India's refusal to grant a patent for imatinib (Glivec / Gleevec)
    By: Peter R Mansfield and Joana Ramos
    This issue includes an open letter from Novartis, published on request from that company. We also provide a summary of the context.
    www.healthyskepticism.org/global/news/issue/hsin07-03


    NOFREELUNCH DIRECTORY
    The No Free Lunch Directory is a database of health care professionals who have pledged to accept no gifts from industry and to rely on non-promotional sources of information. At present, the directory only includes health professionals from the United States. NoFreeLunch intends to include the remainder of the globe in the near future.
    The directory is searchable at:
    http://nofreelunch.org/doctors.asp
    Are you a health care professional who wants to be listed? If so make the pledge at:
    http://nofreelunch.org/pledge.htm


    MEDICINES ISSUES IN CENTRAL AMERICA
    If you are working on, or interested in, medicines issues in Central America (regional and/or country-specific) including, but not limited to the following : access in general, role of Free Trade Agreements on access, rational use, promotion to prescribers and consumers, and pricing, please contact Joana Ramos of the HS Management Group directly in English or Spanish at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). She will put you in touch with a Guatemalan physician/public health researcher interested in forming a network of like-minded people.


    HEALTHY SKEPTICISM IS INTERNATIONAL
    Healthy Skepticism is frequently described incorrectly as an Australian organisation. We are based in Australia but our focus and membership is international. We have people from 5 countries on our management group. Our 1,474 subscribers span 81 countries. The top ten countries (with numbers of subscribers) are:
    Australia - 590
    United States - 297
    United Kingdom - 126
    Canada - 63
    Spain - 37
    Sweden - 30
    India - 30
    Italy - 24
    Brazil - 22
    New Zealand - 22
    France - 22
    Germany - 19

     

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    Update 2007-03-29

    ADWATCH: GSK AVANDIA
    Do not ADOPT rosiglitazone as first-line diabetes treatment.
    www.healthyskepticism.org/global/adwatch/issue/au2007-03


    HEALTHY SKEPTICISM INTERNATIONAL NEWS
    February 2007 Vol 25 No 2
    What everyone needs to know about drug marketing. Part 3: Place, Promotion and Goals
    By: Peter R Mansfield
    This is the final part of a three part article about drug promotion.
    www.healthyskepticism.org/global/news/issue/hsin07-02


    MEDICINS SANS FRONTIERES PETITION: ASK NOVARTIS TO DROP CASE AGAINST INDIA
    Novartis is taking the Indian government to court. If Novartis is successful in its challenge against the Indian government and its patent law, more medicines are likely to be patented in India, making it very difficult for generic producers to make affordable versions of them. This could affect millions of people around the world who depend on medicines produced in India. Please sign the petition:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20090122074056/http://www.msf.org/petition_india/international.html *


    RECOMMENDED WEBSITES
    When we hear about relevant websites that are new or new to us we list them in our What’s New forum:
    [obsolete URL deleted]

    The best of the new websites include:

    PharmedOut
    An independent project run by physicians for physicians and other prescribers. The goal is to disseminate information about how pharmaceutical companies influence what we prescribe, to increase access to unbiased information about drugs, and to encourage physicians to choose pharma-free CME.
    www.pharmedout.org

    Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
    Updates and Commentary related to the book “Hooked: Ethics, the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry” by Howard Brody, MD, PhD ( Rowman and Littlefield, January, 2007 )
    http://brodyhooked.blogspot.com

    Pharmalot
    Pharmalot’s self description is “a home for lively discussion about news and trends in the pharmaceutical industry. This blog is written by Ed Silverman, a veteran journalist for The Star-Ledger of New Jersey.
    http://pharmalot.com

    We will introduce more websites in a later issue of Healthy Skepticism Updates.

     

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    Update 2007-03-19

    You are one of 1,417 people on the mailing list for Healthy Skepticism Updates

    CONTENTS
    New web server
    GSK internal documents
    Healthy Skepticism International News
    Recent publications


    NEW WEB SERVER
    We have moved our website to a new server but the address remains:
    www.healthyskepticism.org If you have experienced technical problems
    with our website, we apologize. We are trying to do a lot with
    limited resources. We hope there will be less technical problems from
    now on.


    GSK INTERNAL DOCUMENTS
    Jon Jureidini (HS Chair), Leemon McHenry (consultant to the Baum
    Hedlund law firm) and Peter Mansfield (HS Director) have been
    analyzing internal documents from GlaxoSmithKline regarding Study 329
    of paroxetine for depressed adolescents. Our analysis has been
    submitted to a medical journal. Meanwhile the documents and a list of
    all known trials of newer antidepressants for depressed children and
    adolescents are available at:
    [obsolete URL deleted]


    HEALTHY SKEPTICISM INTERNATIONAL NEWS
    We are still catching up on posting Healthy Skepticism International
    News issues. Issues dated December 2006 and January 2007 have now
    been posted.

    December 2006 Vol 24 No 12
    What everyone needs to know about drug marketing. Part 1: Products.
    By: Peter R Mansfield
    This is first part of a 3 part article. This part focuses on
    pharmaceutical products.

    Go to: www.healthyskepticism.org//global/news/issue/hsin06-12

    January 2007 Vol 25 No 1
    What everyone needs to know about drug marketing. Part 2: Prices
    By: Peter R Mansfield
    This part will be easier to understand if you have read the first
    part first.

    Go to: www.healthyskepticism.org/global/news/issue/hsin07-01


    RECENT PUBLICATIONS
    If you know of any publications relevant to drug promotion that are
    not listed in our web library please inform: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Publications by Healthy Skepticism Members

    Mansfield PR, Hoffman JR, Lexchin J.
    Educating Health Professionals about Drug and Device Promotion:
    Authors' Reply.
    PLoS Med. 2007 Feb 27;4(2):e88
    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040088

    Harvey K.
    Medicines Australia latest Code of Conduct Report
    AusPharmList 2007 Feb 16
    http://auspharmlist.net.au/post.php?postid=9292

    Lexchin J.
    A comparison of new drug availability in Canada and the United States
    and potential therapeutic implications of differences.
    Health Policy 2006 Dec;79(2-3):214-20
    http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0168-8510(06)00003-0

    Mansfield PR.
    Doctors as lapdogs to drug firms: Independence may be most cost
    effective way to improve health care.
    BMJ 2006 Nov 25;333(7578):1121-2
    www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7578/1121-c

    Recent publications mentioning Healthy Skepticism

    Pollard R.
    Bitter pills
    Sydney Morning Herald 2007 Feb 15
    www.smh.com.au/news/world/bitter-pills/2007/02/14/1171405299899.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2

    Langley ZL
    Antidote for Misleading Advertising: Healthy Skepticism Inc.
    ShuffleBrain; 2007 Feb 11
    www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/drugads.html

    Fleg AN.
    Introduction to pharmaceuticology
    studentBMJ 2007;15:45-88
    www.studentbmj.com/issues/07/02/life/78.php

     

    Updates homepage

     

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    Update 2007-02-03

    Notice: The URLs in this Update have been updated to be correct for our new website.

    ADWATCH
    December 2006
    'Use the best first'. Moxafloxacin from Bayer (Italy)
    This AdWatch issue provides an analysis by an Italian General Practitioner of a conference proceedings booklet funded by Bayer.

    Go to: www.healthyskepticism.org/global/adwatch


    HEALTHY SKEPTICISM INTERNATIONAL NEWS
    November 2006 Vol 24 No 11
    What are we doing to our children? / Do we have a prescription addiction?
    By: Jerome Burne
    Jerome Burne is a science and medical journalist interested in the gap between the ideals of science and the realities of commerce. The November 2006 HS Int News provides full versions of two of Jerome’s articles about treatment of children with psychiatric drugs.

    Go to: www.healthyskepticism.org/global/news/int/hsin06-11


    LIBRARY
    Our main website library now lists over 8,300 publications relevant to drug promotion many with full text. New publications are being added almost every day by our new one hour per day employee: Robyn Clothier.

    The best way to keep up with the latest publications is to visit our new improved What’s New page: www.healthyskepticism.org/global/new

    The library home page is:
    www.healthyskepticism.org/global/library
    You can search the main library at:
    www.healthyskepticism.org/global/library/search

    If you know of a publication relevant to drug promotion that is not yet listed in our library please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

     

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    Update 2006-11-23

    UPDATES USUALLY ONCE A MONTH
    Our aim is to send Healthy Skepticism Updates only about once a month because we know some people do not want more frequent emails from us. This is the third message this month. The increased frequency is temporary and arises because we are catching up after setting up a new email sending system.

    If you want more contact with us, please contribute to our Fora: [obsolete URL deleted]


    YOUR OCCUPATION AND LOCATION
    It is useful for us to have accurate records of your occupation and location because sometimes we want to send messages that are interesting only for people in specific occupations or locations.

    According to our database your location and occupation are:

    Country: [COUNTRY]

    Occupation: [OCCUPATION]

    If applicable:
    Medical specialty: [IF YOU ARE A DOCTOR]

    Pharmacy Specialty: [IF YOU ARE A PHARMACIST]

    Type of Student: [IF YOU ARE A STUDENT]

    Second Occupation: [SECOND OCCUPATION]

    If any of the above are incorrect, please use the link at the bottom of this page to correct our database.


     
    HEALTHY SKEPTICISM INTERNATIONAL NEWS
    October 2006 Vol 24 No 10
    Don't judge a paper by its abstract
    By: Peter Parry

    Peter Parry is a consultant child & adolescent psychiatrist who became interested, perplexed and then troubled after closely comparing the abstract of a highly important paper to his clinical practice with the paper's own results in the body of its text. The paper in question "Fluoxetine, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy and Their Combination for Adolescents with Depression - Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS) Randomised Control Trial" highlights problems in current research and medical publication. Abstracts may reflect bias of the researchers or study sponsors and distort findings of the research.

    Go to: www.healthyskepticism.org/global/news/int/hsin06-10

    HEATHTY SKEPTICISM MANAGEMENT GROUP 2006-07

    Executive:

    Chair: Jon Jureidini, (Child Psychiatrist) Adelaide, Australia

    Deputy Chair: Agnés Vitry (Pharmacy) Adelaide, Australia

    Treasurer: Heather Carter (GP) Adelaide, Australia

    Secretary and Director: Peter Mansfield (GP) Willunga, Australia

    Other Management Group Members:

    Dee Mangin (GP) Christchurch, New Zealand

    Joana Ramos (Social Work) Seattle, USA

    Joel Lexchin (Emergency Medicine and Health Policy) Toronto, Canada

    Jörg Schaaber (Sociology and Journalism) Bielefeld, Germany

    Melissa Raven (Public Health) Adelaide, Australia

    We cover a wide range of disciplines, 4 continents (Joanna has many contacts in South America) and 5 languages: English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish.

     

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    Update 2006-11-09

    THANK YOU !!!
    We thank the 291 people who have corrected and updated their details in our database during the past 2 days. There were some errors created during the database transfer process eg. all the Australians were recorded as living in Argentina. If you have not done so yet, please use the link at the end of this message to check if our record for you needs to be corrected or updated.


    RECENT PUBLICATIONS
    PLOS Medicine has published today a set of recommendations for improving education for health professionals about pharmaceutical and device promotion. The recommendations were produced by an iterative E-mail discussion among representatives of four organizations: the American Medical Student Association, Healthy Skepticism Inc., No Free Lunch, and PharmAware.

    Mansfield PR, Lexchin J, Wen LS, Grandori L, McCoy CP, et al. (2006) Educating Health Professionals about Drug and Device Promotion: Advocates' Recommendations. PLoS Med 3(11): e451
    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0030451
    (You may need to repair this link before pasting it in your web browser.)

    Also published recently:
    Mansfield P (2006) Industry-Sponsored Research: A More Comprehensive Alternative. PLoS Med 3(10): e463
    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0030463


    HELP OUR FRIENDS BY SENDING AN EMAIL
    We have had a request for help from KILEN  - Consumer Institute and Association for Medicines and Health, Sweden because the new Swedish government has decided to stop the funding. KILEN will run out to funds and thus be forced to close in a few weeks.

    KILEN ( http://www.kilen.org ) started in 1975 and is one of the oldest consumer-organisation focusing on helping people harmed by and/or dependent on medicines.
    KILEN is also provides independent information about medicines including at seminars and conferences about patient safety.
    KILEN is involved in many national and international projects including:
    * Consumer reporting of adverse effects of drugs.
    * Quality and safety of medicines - patient safety - in Newly Independent States.
    * School-projects: To empower and educate children and youth about medicines.

    I visited KILEN when I was in Stockholm in September and was very impressed.

    You can help by sending an email to Goran Hagglund, Minister of Health, Sweden:
    [email deleted]
    with a copy to Lena Westin: [email deleted]
    (NB the o in Goran and the a in Hagglund should have umlats but our email sender can not do umlats yet.)

    For example I sent the following message today:

    Dear Mr Hagglund,

    I am writing to you on behalf of Healthy Skepticism Inc., an international organisation aiming to improve health by reducing harm from misleading drug promotion.

    Please continue funding for KILEN (Consumer Institute and Association for Medicines and Health). KILEN's work on adverse drug reactions is has provided international leadership that is helping save lives and reduce harm around the world.

    regards,

    Dr Peter Mansfield
    Director, Healthy Skepticism Inc
    www.healthyskepticism.org
    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/peter.mansfield

     

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    Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

    The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
    - Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963