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Latest Posts

Drug Marketing During The Holidays Targets Night Shift Workers

…And all through the town not a creature was stirring except for some struggling to stay awake throughout the night shift….

So reads a newspaper ad for a federally-controlled substance in prescription drug form that is marketed for ES caused by SWD or OSA.

Don’t know what that means?

Come on.  Where have you been?

Like ED for erectile dysfunction, PE for premature ejaculation, and GERD for gastrointestinal reflux disorder, these are the new marketing names for conditions that drug companies want to sell you drugs for.

ES = excessive sleepiness

SWD = shift work disorder

OSA = obstructive sleep apnea

The drug company’s online ads feature a fireman, a police officer, a construction worker.  I am very sensitive to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Health News Review*

MSNBC Promotes Treatment For Condition Plastic Surgeon Named

MSNBC commits an egregious example of disease-mongering in a piece they headlined:

Plastic surgeon wants to fix your ‘runner’s face’.

What is so egregious? Let us count the ways:

• They pass along a plastic surgeon’s news release about his treatment for a condition he calls “runner’s face”.
• So it is a promotion for his treatment for a condition he has named. This is what is called “advertising” – not “journalism.”
• They provide no data.
• They describe Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Screen Everyone For Pancreatic Cancer? What About Evidence And Harm?

Continuing this week’s spontaneous theme (we didn’t make the claims and write the stories) of runaway enthusiasm for various screening tests by some researchers and journalists, HealthDay news service has reported on a study published in the Oct. 28 issue of the journal Nature that they say “provides new insight into the genetics of pancreatic cancer.” In the story, they let one of the researchers get away with saying, almost unchallenged:

“What’s important about this study is that it’s objective data in support of why everyone should be screened for pancreatic cancer.”

Mind you, this was a study that looked at tissue from just seven patients. The story continued with its breathless enthusiasm for the pancreatic cancer screening idea:

“In the future, new imaging techniques and blood tests will offer hope for early detection, the study noted. And just as people have a colonoscopy when they turn 50, “perhaps they should have an endoscopy of their upper gastrointestinal organs that includes an ultrasound of the pancreas,” said (the researcher).”

The very end of the story included some skepticism from Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

A Secret “Sign Of Aging”: International Disease Mongering

Just five days ago we wrote about an American journalist’s observations of medicalization of one problem sometimes observed after menopause: Vaginal atrophy.

Today we see that this disease-mongering trend has popped up in Australia as well. This should be no surprise. Such campaigns are usually led by multinational pharmaceutical companies and their advertising and public relations agencies.

What caught our eye was an article on a women’s health foundation website — a foundation that posts a pretty thin excuse for why it won’t tell you its source of funding. Its article on vaginal atrophy uses classic disease-mongering language:

Ask a woman over the age of 50 about the ‘signs of ag[e]ing’ and she’ll most likely lament about grey hairs, wrinkles and certain body parts having lost their youthful perkiness. What she probably won’t mention is that is that things are ageing “downstairs” too; up to 40% of postmenopausal women show signs of vaginal atrophy.”

The silent epidemic that no one talks about. The huge prevalence estimate — where does that 40 percent figure come from? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

“Mammogram Parties”: Have A Mammogram, Get Flowers And Chocolates?

The Chicago Tribune reports on mammogram marketing tactics being used across the U.S. — some of it apparently to “woo women back to the imaging room” after confusion over conflicting advice about breast cancer screening.

Yes, the tactics include “mammogram parties” offering chocolate fondue, massages, beauty consultations, wine, cheese, roses, and weekend-getaway spa packages. But there’s another side to this, the Tribune reports:

Simply inviting women to “mammogram parties,” could send the wrong message, said Lynne Hildreth, department administrator of women’s oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. …”Mammograms are a medical test, and to treat it like a haircut overlooks that there are very real risks,” said Hildreth. “It’s not the same risk as getting hit by a car, but there’s a real risk of getting a false positive, which means a biopsy work-up, time off work, sleepless nights waiting for test results and a nagging in the back of the mind that never goes away. If we put a woman through that with no medical basis, it’s irresponsible.

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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