Archive for the ‘Pharmaceuticals’ Category

A few weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new internal task force that would examine how the agency can become more transparent. The group would seek suggestions from employees, stakeholders and the public in an effort to reach the best conclusions about how the FDA could become more accessible. (For an overview of what the FDA does and does not regulate, see this Time article.)

Sure enough, the FDA has lived up to its promise. Today, Public Citizen’s own Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of our Health Research Group, is representing American consumers with testimony before the task force. While current FDA procedures favor secrecy so that drug companies can keep competitors in the dark about products being developed, Dr. Lurie will make three recommendations before the task force that will allow the FDA to become more open to the public.

First, Dr. Lurie will recommend that pre-approval documents should be made available to the public. This will prevent scientists from researching products similar to those that, unbeknownst to them, prior research has deemed unsafe, squandering time and money going down roads already proved to be dead ends. In addition, making this information public can save clinical trial participants from being put at needless risk by enrolling them in research likely to prove fruitless.

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This week hasn’t been only about celebrating Joan Claybrook’s incredible legacy. There’s been plenty of work calling out the pharmaceutical industry, advocating against forced arbitration and acting as a government watchdog. Check out these highlights of Public Citizen’s recent news coverage.

An AP story picked up by the New York Times advises consumers to look out for the snake oil salesmen looking to take advantage of your swine flu fears. Public Citizen’s acting director Dr. Sidney Wolfe, weighs in. Dr. Wolfe also had a thing or two to say in a Bloombern News story about Eli Lilli and Co. selling a drug (Zyprexa) for seniors with dementia even though it had no evidence it would help.

National Public Radio produced an excellent piece on forced arbitration. The piece highlights the harrowing story of Jamie Leigh Jones (video here) who was brutally raped while working as a Halliburton contractor in Iraq but remains unable to hold the company accountable. David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, discusses the issue.

Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, discusses the need for more rigorous government ethics reform in a Washington Independent piece about conflicts of interest in military funding, noting “that the difference between the limits on congressional travel and those affecting executive branch officials represents ‘a gaping chasm.'”

elderly

Ok, so I broke down and took Hearst’s RealAge test for research purposes. But I’m pretty sure the results are stuck in Public Citizen‘s spam filter. The gist of it is that you take RealAge’s online quiz about your health history and habits, and it cranks out your “real” age for you, plus or minus a few years. Predictably, couch potatoes and bacon eaters have years subtracted, while folks with clean medical histories have years added.

And then RealAge sells your info and email to pharmaceutical companies, as the New York Times reported yesterday. Our friends at the CL&P blog have a great post on this, questioning the legality of this business model.

Anyway, RealAge’s questionnaire is unremarkable.

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big-pharma

The New York Times’ Stephanie Clifford had an interesting piece today about RealAge, an online quiz site that apparently has garnered a fair amount of press from Oprah etc. Public Citizen’s Peter Lurie, deputy director of health research, weighs in by telling the Times how sites like this take advantage of consumers’ health fears:

“Literally millions of people have unknowingly signed up,” said Peter Lurie, M.D., the deputy director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a public interest group in Washington. The company, he said, “can create a group of people, and hit them up and create anxiety even though the person does not have a diagnosis.”

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