Side Effects - JSOnline - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Side Effects | Money, Medicine, and Patients. Journal Sentinel investigations have revealed the troubling influence of drug companies on American medicine.
The story of BMP-2 raises questions about whether doctors should be allowed to do clinical trial research involving products that might enrich them or the company they work for. (33).
When the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed acne guidelines, it didn’t reveal that most experts who drafted them were linked to drug makers. (274).
Behind a surge of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers in the past decade was a network of pain organizations, doctors and researchers that pushed for expanded use of the drugs while taking in millions of dollars from the companies that made them. (79).
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Since 2007, top-selling opioids dispensed to people 60 years and older have increased 32%. The increase has been fueled in part by doctors and pain advocacy organizations that receive money from drug companies and make misleading claims about the safety and effectiveness of opioids. (39).
In 2002, Thomas Zdeblick, a UW orthopedic surgeon who has pocketed millions of dollars in royalties from the spinal device maker Medtronic, took over as editor-in-chief of a medical journal about spinal disorders. It would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
For years, drug companies sought out influential university doctors to bring their message to other doctors. But companies have been forced to back away from that approach as a growing number of medical schools have developed policies that ban such talks. (54).
Doctors with financial ties to drug companies have heavily influenced treatment guidelines that recommend the most lucrative drugs in American medicine, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today has found. (27).
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Videos of patient testimonials sent to doctors in the late 1990s reveal how marketing trumped science as more and more prescriptions for chronic pain were written. (63).
The CDC that increases in heroin deaths may be partly due to users having less access to prescription opioids. (2) More.
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The 2012 Gerald Loeb Award Winner in the beat reporting category was awarded to reporter John Fauber for the "Side Effects" series.
The figure of 100 million Americans suffering from severe chronic pain has become a central part of the debate over the use of narcotic painkillers. (14).
A U.S. Senate committee has launched an investigation into reports that doctors with financial ties to the medical device company Medtronic were aware of serious complications with a lucrative spine surgery product yet failed to reveal those problems in medical journal articles. (21).
A Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigation found that the FDA failed to heed a key piece of research indicating tramadol had the potential to be abused. (29).
Reporter John Fauber was one of two recipients of the 2013 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.
Since 1999, the FDA approved four jaw joint replacement devices despite weak and incomplete research clouded by potential conflicts of interest, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found. What's more, the agency approved the devices even after a disastrous series of failures and recalls during the 1980s. (358).
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Since 2002, Medtronic and a group of doctors with financial ties to the medical device company were aware that a new biological agent used in back surgery was linked to sterility in men. But that crucial information was not revealed in medical journal articles written by those doctors. (55).
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's $75 million investment in Vertex Pharmaceuticals' drug Kalydeco has resulted in huge windfalls for the drugmaker's executives. (372).
A Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigation found that the FDA approved Infuse after markedly less testing on patients than for other combination products or for biologic drugs, even though serious concerns about its safety wereraisedbefore its approval. (3).
Over the last few years, prescriptions for testosterone have boomed. Instead of relying on strong evidence, the phenomenon is based largely on iffy science, promotion, manipulation and conflicts of interest, a Journal Sentinel investigation found.
As fears were growing about the link between hormone therapy and breast cancer, a drug company paid the University of Wisconsin to sponsor ghostwritten medical education articles that downplayed the risks, records obtained by the Journal Sentinel show.
The Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today obtained documents referring to private meetings between federal health industry regulators and drug company executives. (13).
A Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigation found the growth in Advair sales followed new asthma treatment recommendations that were written largely by doctors who received money from GlaxoSmithKline and other companies that market the drugs. (27).
Doctors paid millions of dollars by Medtronic failed to identify a significant cancer risk with the company's spine surgery product in a 2009 paper about results of a large clinical trial. The company and doctors had become aware of information on an additional cancer case, which pushed the concern to a critical level, at least two months before the paper was published, a Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigation found. (33).
Thomas Zdeblick, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, raised eyebrows three years ago when it was learned that he had been receiving $400,000 yearly from the medical device company. But yearly payments actually averaged about 10 times that figure.
Thousands of Americans are dying each year after mixing opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine tranquilizers. (9).
Patients' excruciating pain is at the center of a growing controversy surrounding the Medtronic and the spine surgery product Infuse that it markets. (51).
Journal Sentinel investigations have revealed the troubling influence of drug companies on American medicine. The stories have looked at conflicts of interest, flawed science and shoddy oversight by federal regulators – from back surgery products to the use of opioids to treat long-term pain.
The conclusions were clear: Women who took hormone therapy drugs were at increased risk for disease. The findings were so strong that researchers stopped a clinical trial five years early. But that same year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison began a course that promoted hormone therapy and downplayed its risks.
Before the 1980s, drug industry money for clinical trial research at academic institutions gave complete control to university researchers. But now the companies often design the studies and do the analysis, sometimes without giving university researchers access to the original data. (25).
The entire issue of a medical journal is devoted to a scientific and financial expose of a product, the practices of the company that markets it and the financially conflicted doctors who tested and promoted it. (764).
An orthopedic surgeon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison gets so much money from the medical device firm Medtronic that he is required to meet annually with his department chairman. But the chairman, Thomas Zdeblick, got more than 25 times that amount from Medtronic during the same time. (188).
For nearly a decade, Paula Oer's brain tumor was kept at bay by a drug that was not approved to treat her condition. Then Oer did something she never imagined would jeopardize her good health. She moved. Less than 30 miles - from one county in Wisconsin to another. (66).
Fueled by a continuous infusion of money from the manufacturers of drugs such as OxyContin over more than a decade, a UW research group has been a quiet force in the effort to liberalize the way those drugs are prescribed and viewed in the United States. (117).
While a growing number of hospitals boast that they are equipped to use the clot-dissolving drug, they don't always do so, a Journal Sentinel investigation found. (26).
A Pfizer promotional campaign for the controversial drug Chantix - which includes financing a course for doctors through UW-Madison - has helped the drug dominate the prescription smoking-treatment market while burying mention of its serious side effects.
Medtronic marketing employees were secretly involved in drafting and editing favorable medical journal articles about the company's lucrative back surgery product, a U.S. Senate investigation reveals. (41).
To doctors around the country, Lynn Webster is a leading expert in how to safely prescribe narcotic painkillers and the creator of a system designed to figure out which patients are most likely to abuse and possibly overdose from the potent drugs. (8).
Dozens of University of Wisconsin-Madison physicians also work for drug companies. The practice - though legal - is coming under increased scrutiny, both at UW and across the country.
More than 40 UW physicians in 2007 were paid to work as speakers or authors by drug or medical device companies, records show. It's a practice that increasingly is drawing criticism because of concerns that it can influence patient care and raise the cost of treatment.
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Earlier this year, a UW cancer specialist co-authored a medical article on TomoTherapy. The journal article said the author reported no potential conflicts of interest. But documents obtained from the university l a different story.
Over the last decade, a small group of surgeons has been enlisted by Medtronic to do research or write articles about the company's new spine surgery product. This year alone, many of those doctors received payments of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each in royalties for a variety of other Medtronic devices. (38).
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University of Wisconsin officials have watered down proposed conflict of interest rules, allowing orthopedic surgeons and other doctors who implant devices to earn large sums of money making presentations for medical device companies.
John Fauber won first place for medical and science writing for his Side Effects series in the 2014 National Headliner Awards.