Health Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Health Media Articles in Major Media
Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Health care legislation before Congress takes only modest steps to address a problem that is more deadly than inadequate medical insurance - medical error. Studies show that preventable medical errors - ranging from poor sanitation to mistakes during surgery - kill four times as many people as the lack of medical insurance. In August, a Hearst investigation, "Dead by Mistake," concluded that as many as 200,000 people die each year from medical errors and infections in the United States and that many measures to alleviate the problem have not been adopted 10 years after a landmark federal study, "To Err Is Human." A new Hearst analysis shows that the health care reform bills under consideration by Congress also do not include key recommendations, outlined in the study, that the health care industry has lobbied against ever since. Experts agree that the proposed legislation does not address key aspects of the problem. "We are not seeing a lot about safety, which is interesting, because the nation is acknowledging the 10-year anniversary of 'To Err is Human' and there is a lot of frustration that we have not made more progress," said Jim Conway, senior vice president at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a Boston nonprofit that has been pushing hospitals toward safer care. Two major recommendations of the federal study are mandatory reporting of medical errors and, based on those reports, systemic changes to prevent future mistakes. None of the bills include mandatory reporting.
Note: For a powerful summary of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
France's highest court has ruled that US agrochemical giant Monsanto had not told the truth about the safety of its best-selling weed-killer, Roundup. The court confirmed an earlier judgment that Monsanto had falsely advertised its herbicide as "biodegradable" and claimed it "left the soil clean". The company was fined 15,000 euros (Ł13,800; $22,400). Roundup is the world's best-selling herbicide. Monsanto also sells crops genetically-engineered to be tolerant to Roundup. French environmental groups had brought the case in 2001 on the basis that glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, is classed as "dangerous for the environment" by the European Union. Earlier this month, Monsanto reported a fourth quarter loss of $233m (Ł147m), driven mostly by a drop in sales of its Roundup brand.
Note: For an article on the dangers of Monsanto's RoundUp, click here.
Americans are still debating whether to roll up their sleeves for a swine flu shot, but companies have already figured it out: vaccines are good for business. Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market. "The vaccine market is booming," says Bruce Carlson, spokesperson at market research firm Kalorama, which publishes an annual survey of the vaccine industry. "It's an enormous growth area for pharmaceuticals at a time when other areas are not doing so well," he says. As always with pandemic flus, taxpayers are footing the $1.5 billion check for the 250 million swine flu vaccines that the government has ordered so far and will be distributing free to doctors, pharmacies and schools. In addition, Congress has set aside more than $10 billion this year to research flu viruses, monitor H1N1's progress and educate the public about prevention. Drugmakers pocket most of the revenues from flu sales. But some say it's not just drugmakers who stand to benefit. Doctors collect copayments for special office visits to inject shots, and there have been assertions that these doctors actually profit handsomely from these vaccinations. Pharmacies also charge co-payments or full price of about $25 to those without insurance.
Note: For a revealing article questioning the efficacy of vaccines, click here. And for a powerful CBS '60 Minutes' news clip clearly showing how the profit motive in vaccines endangers public health, click here.
A “perplexing” Canadian study linking H1N1 to seasonal flu shots is throwing national influenza plans into disarray and testing public faith in the government agencies responsible for protecting the nation's health. Distributed for peer review last week, the study confounded infectious-disease experts in suggesting that people vaccinated against seasonal flu are twice as likely to catch swine flu. The paper has since convinced several provincial health agencies to announce hasty suspensions of seasonal flu vaccinations, long-held fixtures of public-health planning. “It has confused things very badly,” said Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. “And it has certainly cost us credibility from the public because of conflicting recommendations. Until last week, there had always been much encouragement to get the seasonal flu vaccine.” On Sunday Quebec joined Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia in suspending seasonal flu shots for anyone under 65 years of age. Quebec's Health Ministry announced it would postpone vaccinations until January. B.C. is expected to announce a similar suspension during a press conference Monday morning. Other provinces, including Manitoba, are still pondering a response to the research. Dr. Rubinstein, who has read the study, said it appears sound. “There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers,” he said. “And the sample size is very large – 12 or 13 million people taken from the central reporting systems in three provinces. The research is solid.”
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the dangers of vaccines, click here.
The Environmental Protection Agency detailed its plans ... for research into the possible health and environmental risks of nanomaterials, tiny substances that are finding growing use in products like sunscreens and industrial adhesives. The document ... calls for work to identify sources of nanomaterials, which can measure as little as perhaps one-10,000th the width of a human hair. Research will also center on how they move in the environment, the problems they might cause for people, animals and plants, and how these problems could be avoided or mitigated. The federal National Nanotechnology Initiative is charged with coordinating research by various agencies on the issue. But in a highly critical report last year, the National Academy of Sciences dismissed its effort as inadequate. Little is known about whether substances engineered at the nano scale persist and accumulate in the environment in unusual and potentially harmful ways. In August, a coalition of groups including Friends of the Earth and Consumers Union issued a report urging people to avoid sunscreens containing nano-forms of zinc oxide, saying their risks were unknown.
As a group of healthcare workers, we are being mandated by a new New York state law to receive the seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 vaccines. If we do not receive these vaccines by November 30th, that inaction is to be considered our resignation. We must sign a consent for the vaccines prior to their administration. The manufacturers have been granted immunity by the government; they cannot be sued for untoward effects. We do not want to receive these vaccines. Our educated studies of risks versus benefits conclude that the risks of the vaccine are greater than the possible benefits. All health care workers with direct patient care are mandated to receive the vaccine, so the coercion is real -- we cannot just go find a job "somewhere else." And the job market of 2009 does not offer opportunity in a different arena where we could still feed our families. We understand the fear that swine flu and influenza has generated. While our sources of information indicate that swine flu is not a pandemic, we know that the slanted research fed by the media offers results intended to frighten the public. We do not have the power to stop the fear that mass hype is able to generate. We hear the hype you are fed. We do not want to bring you harm, but we should not be forced into harm's way ourselves.
Note: For more on mandatory flu vaccinations, click here.
LSD, the drug that launched the psychedelic era and became one of the resounding symbols of the counterculture movement of the '60s, is back in the labs. Nearly 40 years after widespread fear over recreational abuse of LSD and other hallucinogens forced dozens of scientists to abandon their work, researchers at a handful of major institutions - including UCSF and Harvard University - are reigniting studies. The study at UCSF ... is looking into the mechanisms of LSD and how it works in the brain. The hope is that such research might support further studies into medical applications of LSD - for chronic headaches, for example - or psychiatric uses. "Psychedelics are in labs all over the world and there's a lot of promise," said Rick Doblin, director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz. Stanislav Grof was one of the last scientists to abandon hallucinogenic research when he shut down several projects at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in 1973 after his funding dried up. He moved to California to work at a research institute in Big Sur, where he turned to studies about how to re-create the effects of those drugs through meditation and breathing techniques. He's pleased to see some of the stigma falling away from drugs like LSD, but it bothers him that the scientific community lost decades of research. "I thought psychiatry and psychology really lost a major opportunity because of the abuse that happened with unsupervised research," Grof said. "These are fascinating substances - and they're very, very powerful, so they should be used with great precaution."
The Food and Drug Administration [has admitted] that four New Jersey congressmen and its own former commissioner unduly influenced the process that led to its decision last year to approve a patch for injured knees. The agency’s scientific reviewers repeatedly and unanimously over many years decided that the device, known as Menaflex and manufactured by ReGen Biologics Inc., was unsafe because the device often failed, forcing patients to get another operation. But after receiving what an F.D.A. report described as “extreme,” “unusual” and persistent pressure from four Democrats from New Jersey ... agency managers overruled the scientists and approved the device for sale in December. All four legislators made their inquiries within a few months of receiving significant campaign contributions from ReGen, which is based in New Jersey, but all said they had acted appropriately and were not influenced by the money. Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, the former drug agency’s commissioner, said he had acted properly. The agency has never before publicly questioned the process behind one of its approvals, never admitted that a regulatory decision was influenced by politics, and never accused a former commissioner of questionable conduct. The report, written by top agency officials, said that Dr. von Eschenbach, who resigned as F.D.A. commissioner in January, became as a result of political pressure “personally engaged in the details of a process usually coordinated” by scientific staff. One agency manager concluded that Dr. von Eschenbach “was demanding not only an expedited process but also an outcome in favor of ReGen,” the report stated.
Note: For a powerful summary of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Pharmaceutical companies will be able to produce about 3 billion doses of swine flu vaccine a year ... the World Health Organization said. The U.N. agency had previously predicted that companies would be able to make up to 5 billion doses each year. The World Health Organization admits that not everyone may need vaccination. "Most people will do well without the vaccine," WHO vaccine chief Marie-Paule Kieny told reporters. She said most people infected with the pandemic strain of the H1N1 virus have a mild illness and recover by themselves. Addressing concerns about the safety of the pandemic vaccine, WHO said trials to date suggest it is as safe as a regular seasonal flu shot. Kieny said large-scale vaccination programs would probably detect some cases of severe reaction following the vaccination, but that those would likely have occurred anyway without vaccination. The agency is urging countries to monitor the vaccination procedure for possible further side effects. Meanwhile WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan repeated Thursday her recommendation that governments keep up their guard against swine flu but refrain from closing borders or restricting trade.
Note: With the cost of a regular flu vaccine dose ranging from about $20 to $30, do you think the pharmaceutical companies have any vested interest in the public being vaccinated? Let's see, 3 billion X $20 = $60 billion. Hmm. For more on the danger of this vaccine and rampant fear mongering, click here and here.
A federal judge has ruled that the government failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of genetically engineered sugar beets before approving the crop for cultivation in the United States. The decision could lead to a ban on the planting of the beets, which have been widely adopted by farmers. Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco said that the Agriculture Department should have done an environmental impact statement. He said it should have assessed the consequences from the likely spread of the genetically engineered trait to other sugar beets. The decision echoes another ruling two years ago by a different judge in the same court involving genetically engineered alfalfa. In that case, the judge later ruled that farmers could no longer plant the genetically modified alfalfa until the Agriculture Department wrote the environmental impact statement. Two years later, there is still no such assessment. “We expect the same result here as we got in alfalfa,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group that was also involved in the alfalfa lawsuit. “It will halt almost any further planting and sale because it’s no longer an approved crop.” The Center for Food Safety was joined in the suit by the Sierra Club, the Organic Seed Alliance and High Mowing Organic Seeds, a small seed company. The beets contain a bacterial gene licensed by Monsanto that renders them impervious to glyphosate, an herbicide that Monsanto sells as Roundup. Judge White said that the pollen from the genetically engineered crops might spread to non-engineered beets.
Shares of VeriChip Corp tripled after the company said it had been granted an exclusive license to two patents, which will help it to develop implantable virus detection systems in humans. The patents, held by VeriChip partner Receptors LLC, relate to biosensors that can detect the H1N1 and other viruses. The technology will combine with VeriChip's implantable radio frequency identification devices to develop virus triage detection systems. The triage system will provide multiple levels of identification -- the first will identify the agent as virus or non-virus, the second level will classify the virus and alert the user to the presence of pandemic threat viruses and the third level will identify the precise pathogen, VeriChip said in a white paper published May 7, 2009. Shares of VeriChip were up 186 percent.
Note: Beware of efforts to scare you into getting microchipped for your own safety. Click here for more on this. For more on pharmaceutical corporation profiteering from swine flu vaccines, click here.
The scientific integrity of medical research has been clouded in recent years by articles that were drafted by drug company-sponsored ghostwriters and then passed off as the work of independent academic authors. Yet the leading medical journals have continued to rely largely on an honor system of disclosure to detect such potential bias, asking authors to voluntarily report any industry ties or contributors to their manuscripts. But now, in light of recently released evidence that some drug makers have gone to great lengths to turn scientific articles into marketing vehicles for their products, some influential medical editors are cracking down on industry-financed ghostwriting. These editors are demanding that journals impose tougher disclosure policies for academic authors and that the journals enforce their own rules by actively investigating the provenance of manuscripts and by punishing authors who play down extensive contributions by ghostwriters. Calling for a zero tolerance policy, the editors of the medical journal PLoS Medicine, from the Public Library of Science, called for journals to identify and retract ghostwritten articles and banish their authors. “Authors found to have not declared such interest should be banned from any subsequent publication in the journal and their misconduct reported to their institutions.” In the past, researchers have raised allegations of ghostwriting in articles about quality-of-life drugs like antidepressants, painkillers and diet pills. But the situation has become more serious this year after a few editors said they had discovered ghostwriting in manuscripts about life-and-death products like cancer and hematology drugs.”
A freelance cameraman's appendix ruptured and by the time he was admitted to surgery, it was too late. A self-employed mother of two is found dead in bed from undiagnosed heart disease. A 26-year-old aspiring fashion designer collapsed in her bathroom after feeling unusually fatigued for days. What all three of these people have in common is that they experienced symptoms, but didn't seek care because they were uninsured and they worried about the hospital expense, according to their families. All three died. Research released ... in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 45,000 deaths per year in the United States are associated with the lack of health insurance. If a person is uninsured, "it means you're at mortal risk," said one of the authors, Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The researchers examined government health surveys from more than 9,000 people aged 17 to 64, taken from 1986-1994, and then followed up through 2000. They determined that the uninsured have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance as a result of being unable to obtain necessary medical care. The researchers then extrapolated the results to census data from 2005 and calculated there were 44,789 deaths associated with lack of health insurance.
Note: For key reports on important health issues from reliable sources, click here.
A shipwreck apparently containing toxic waste is being investigated by authorities in Italy amid claims that it was deliberately sunk by the mafia. An informant from the Calabrian mafia said the ship was one of a number he blew up as part of an illegal operation to bypass laws on toxic waste disposal. The sunken vessel has been found 30km (18 miles) off the south-west of Italy. The informant said it contained "nuclear" material. Officials said it would be tested for radioactivity. Murky pictures taken by a robot camera show the vessel intact and alongside it are a number of yellow barrels. Labels on them say the contents are toxic. The informant said the mafia had muscled in on the lucrative business of radioactive waste disposal. But he said that instead of getting rid of the material safely, he blew up the vessel out at sea, off the Calabrian coast. He also says he was responsible for sinking two other ships containing toxic waste. For years there have been rumours that the mafia was sinking ships with nuclear and other waste on board, as part of a money-making racket. The environmental campaign group Greenpeace and others have compiled lists over the past few decades of ships that have disappeared off the coast of Italy and Greece. Processing waste is highly specialised and is supposed to be an industry where security is the top priority. If tests show that there is nuclear material on the seabed it will prove that the mafia has moved into its dirtiest business yet.
The nation's political crosscurrents appear to have created vaccine skeptics of many stripes. Many citizens are less inclined than ever to accept the warnings of the Department of Health and Human Services or the recommendations of its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says Sandra Quinn, a University of Pittsburgh public health professor who has just completed a national survey of attitudes about the flu vaccine. Vaccine refusers have long decried vaccine mandates and campaigns as an unwarranted intrusion of parents' and local school boards' rights. For a new generation of vaccine skeptics, there are new objects of distrust. For some, it flows from a suspicion of the multinational corporations that develop and manufacture vaccines. For others, it comes from a belief that media outlets have hyped the pandemic flu story to secure the attention of readers and the revenue of advertisers. And many simply doubt the competency and independence of government agencies, which they believe are too inept, overwhelmed or co-opted by corporate interests to secure the safety of the nation's drugs and food supply. Adding to the wariness toward the forthcoming H1N1 vaccine is the fact that the formulations used on patients in the United States might require the use of adjuvants -- special agents added to a vaccine mix that rev up the immune system and foster a stronger immune response. While adjuvants have been used in vaccines in Europe for many years, the FDA has never approved them for widespread use in the United States. Some vaccine critics in Great Britain have charged that one adjuvant used in European formulations -- squalene -- is associated with a wide range of vague but persistent symptoms.
Note: Adjuvants are being added to vaccines, yet the resulting combined formula is not being tested for safety; the individual components are tested separately. The process for the testing of vaccines is endangering our health. For lots more on the dangers of vaccines and squalene in particular, read respected Dr. Joseph Mercola's incisive article available here.
To listen to President Obama, or to just about anyone else in the health care debate, you would think that the biggest problem with health care in America is the system itself — perverse incentives, inefficiencies, unnecessary tests and procedures, lack of competition, and greed. No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet. That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet — there’s smoking, for instance — but many, if not most, of them are. We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care. The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care.
Note: For a detailed overview of some of the critical risks of the industrially-engineered modern American diet, click here.
A new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation’s largest food manufacturers, is “designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.” The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops. “These are horrible choices,” said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health. He said the criteria used by the Smart Choices Program were seriously flawed, allowing less healthy products, like sweet cereals and heavily salted packaged meals, to win its seal of approval. “It’s a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I’m afraid, not credible,” Mr. Willett said. Froot Loops qualifies for the label because it meets standards set by the Smart Choices Program for fiber and Vitamins A and C, and because it does not exceed limits on fat, sodium and sugar. It contains the maximum amount of sugar allowed under the program for cereals, 12 grams per serving, which in the case of Froot Loops is 41 percent of the product. That is more sugar than in many popular brands of cookies. “Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,” said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. Dr. Clark, who is a member of the Smart Choices board, said that the program’s standard for sugar in cereals was consistent with federal dietary guidelines.
Note: For many revealing reports on health issues, click here.
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations that it had illegally marketed its painkiller Bextra, which has been withdrawn. It was the largest health care fraud settlement and the largest criminal fine of any kind ever. The settlement had been expected. Pfizer, which is acquiring a rival, Wyeth, reported in January that it had taken a $2.3 billion charge to resolve claims involving Bextra and other drugs. It was Pfizer’s fourth settlement over illegal marketing activities since 2002. The government charged that executives and sales representatives throughout Pfizer’s ranks planned and executed schemes to illegally market not only Bextra but also Geodon, an antipsychotic; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, which treats nerve pain. While the government said the fine was a record sum, the $2.3 billion fine amounts to less than three weeks of Pfizer’s sales. Much of the activities cited Wednesday occurred while Pfizer was in the midst of resolving allegations that it illegally marketed Neurontin, an epilepsy drug for which the company in 2004 paid a $430 million fine and signed a corporate integrity agreement — a companywide promise to behave. John Kopchinski, a former Pfizer sales representative whose complaint helped prompt the government’s Bextra case, said that company managers told him and others to dismiss concerns about the Neurontin case while pushing them to undertake similar illegal efforts on behalf of Bextra. “The whole culture of Pfizer is driven by sales, and if you didn’t sell drugs illegally, you were not seen as a team player,” said Mr. Kopchinski.
The electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phone towers and cellphones can pose a threat to honey bees, a study published in India has concluded. An experiment conducted in the southern state of Kerala found that a sudden fall in the bee population was caused by towers installed across the state by cellphone companies to increase their network. The electromagnetic waves emitted by the towers crippled the "navigational skills" of the worker bees that go out to collect nectar from flowers to sustain bee colonies, said Dr. Sainuddin Pattazhy, who conducted the study. He found that when a cell phone was kept near a beehive, the worker bees were unable to return, leaving the hives with only the queens and eggs and resulting in the collapse of the colony within ten days. Over 100,000 people in Kerala are engaged in apiculture and the dwindling worker bee population poses a threat to their livelihood. The bees also play a vital role in pollinating flowers to sustain vegetation. If towers and mobile phones further increase, honey bees might be wiped out in 10 years, Pattazhy said.
Amid questions about the safety of the HPV vaccine Gardasil, one of the lead researchers for the Merck drug is speaking out about its risks, benefits and aggressive marketing. Dr. Diane Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published, scholarly papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It's highly unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved. Dr. Harper joins a number of consumer watchdogs, vaccine safety advocates, and parents who question the vaccine's risk-versus-benefit profile. She says data available for Gardasil shows that ... there is no data showing that it remains effective beyond five years. This raises questions about the CDC's recommendation that the series of shots be given to girls as young as 11-years old. "If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn't last... we've put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit," says Dr. Harper. "The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated." She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.
Note: For more on the dangers of vaccines, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.