Weekly Roundup: Media Hits and Misses

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  • 11/03/2006
I know that lots of reporters are on leave or had very little time to go through the Family USA report. And FUSA knows that. The media was manipulated and used by FUSA and reporters should not be happy about it....The Family USA report continues to astound me...Here's a group that has been in favor of generic drug approvals and use and then turns around and claims that generic coverage is not meaningful, which is a weasel word for not having 100 percent of all drug costs covered for all seniors regardless of income or ability to pay. So much for means testing, right?

Another weasel word....generic equivalent instead of generic alternative. FUSA claims that most of the commonly used drugs have no generic equivalent, which means an exact copy. There are however, generic alternatives which might be cheaper and as effective (or not depending on the person) for all but 6 of the drugs FUSA lists. There are generic beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, pain relievers, anti-depressants, proton pump inhibitors, etc that FUSA ignored to paint a dire picture.

Finally, FUSA ignored the fact that many of the drugs on the Medicare formulary they regard as meaningul such as Aricept, Lipitor, Nexium, Prevacid, Evista, Celebrex...are not on the wonderful VA formulary it would use instead of the horrible private sector PBM model which by the way FUSA endorsed in 2000 when proposed by President Clinton and the Dems.

Another Media Miss....

Anti-Depressants Linked to Lower Suicide Rates

Researchers report an inverse relationship between antidepressant prescriptions and the rates of suicide in children and adolescents -- a finding that contradicts the Food and Drug Administration's "black box" warning for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications, also known as SSRI drugs.

The University of Illinois at Chicago epidemiologic study appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The researchers examined suicide rates of children ages 5-14 in each county of the United States from 1996 to 1998 and county-level data on SSRI prescriptions. The results were adjusted for sex, race, income, access to quality mental health care and variations in county-to-county suicide rates.

"We found that counties with the highest prescription rates for SSRI drugs had the lowest suicide rates in children and adolescents," said the lead author Robert Gibbons, director of the Center for Health Statistics and professor of biostatistics and psychiatry at UIC. "This is just the opposite of what you would predict if SSRI's were producing suicide."

Yeah, which comports with meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials and other epidemiological studies. So in light of the media's reporting on the opposite -- based on a handful of questionably conducted small studies -- where's the coverage?

So what are reporters looking at? Drug marketing practices...what a shock.

Med schools warn of drug sales pitches
By David Caruso (AP)

No point giving you the whole article since it is such a time worn theme....the pizza, the prizes, it corrupts.

The punchline of course is delivered once again by Jerome Kassirer who of course is beyond reproach on all things medical....

"Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a professor at the Tufts School of Medicine and a frequent critic of the doctor-pharmaceutical relationship, said schools need to do more than just lecture.

"The question to ask yourself about these programs is: What are the faculty doing? Because if the students walk away from those sessions and find out their faculty are off speaking for Pfizer, what are they going to think?"

My answer: I can't wait till I get a crack at that too.....

Or better yet how about a universal ban on speaking fees for everyone. Why should Kassirer get paid to spout his views. Isn't that a conflict? If he was really comitted to his cause, he would do it for nothing. How do I know that the money given to him by a group is causing him to shade or shape his view?

Similarly, reporters give talks for money on their views of the world? Doesn't that make them appear less objective and blur the distinction between their obligation as journalists to inform and simply being paid to give their opinion. How do I know that a reporter is truly being objective when they are receiving outside income to provide their opinion?

Sorry, no hits this week. Let's see what election week brings.

PS. Here's a photo of my son Zach doing urban combat training in the Negev.. (He is the one on the left) Can I repeat again how proud I am of him? Anyone who knows John Kerry's email please forward...

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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