Thursday, July 31, 2014

How low can pharma researchers go?


Pretty damn low.  This week Matter has published two long pieces of medical muckraking.  My piece investigates the way that clinical trial sites are recruiting mentally ill subjects from homeless shelters and paying them to test the safety of experimental drugs.  Peter Aldhous shows the extent to which pharma-sponsored trials are being run by doctors who have been disciplined for problems ranging from substance abuse to professional incompetence.

The larger problem, of course, is the extraordinarily weak, often corrupt oversight system that is supposed to be protecting research subjects.  As Elizabeth Woeckner of Circare says, "These are regulations for a world that doesn't exist anymore."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"It was kind of a rattling, guttural sound. There was kind of a snorting through his nose. A couple of times, he definitely appeared to be choking."

"Whatever we know about these executions, the known unknowns are greater. Because the states will not share them, we don't know the dosages of the drugs administered. We don't know the drugs' manufacturers or their quality-control procedures. We mostly don't know the credentials of those administering the drugs. More importantly, the defendants don't know any of this, either. Without this information, those sentenced to execution cannot challenge the execution procedures in court nor check for possible medical complications. State execution-secrecy laws, routinely upheld by lower courts but untested before the Supreme Court, prevent this basic level of prophylactic Eighth Amendment protection. If death by torture is not cruel, defendants contend, what is?"

Matt Ford writes in The Atlantic about our latest botched execution.

Relman: American medicine is "treated as a market commodity, distributed according to the ability to pay, not medical need."

Marcia Angell writes in the New York Review of Books about her husband, Bud Relman, who first warned about the growing "medical-industrial complex" -- his term -- in 1980.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kaler gets a pay raise while U students accumulate record amounts of debt

"On July 9th, 2014, the Minnesota Board of Regents approved a pay raise and contract extension for UMN President Eric Kaler, bringing his base pay up to $625,250 per year with built-in reviews for additional annual raises and a total compensation package peaking at nearly a million dollars per year by the time his contract expires in 2020.  SDS opposes this decision and sees it as a direct affront to our demands for economic justice and education rights at UMN."

Read the rest of SDS condemnation here.