Author Archives: Martha Rosenberg

Is it dementia or drug interactions and side effects? New book addresses dangers of ‘polypharmacy’

Interview with Harry Haroutunian, MD, author of ‘Not as Prescribed—Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults.’

Forgetfulness. Falls. Adding a new prescription or over-the-counter drug to address problems that are side effects of a previous drug. It is an increasingly common problem says a new book from Hazelden because people are taking more drugs than ever before and not always aware of their side effects and interactions. This “polypharmacy” can produce everything from falls and accidents to behavior that is quickly termed “dementia” in the elderly even when it is clearly from drug effects. The problem is compounded by doctors not always aware of what other doctors are prescribing a patient and the very addictive nature of many popular drugs today. Continue reading

Pharma giant Pfizer blocked from tax evasion

New Treasury Department rules helped scrap the alleged tax-dodging giant's attempt to merge with overseas firm.

Big Pharma received $127 billion of our tax dollars in 2014 through the federal programs Medicare, Medicaid, VA, and TRICARE. But just because they live on our tax dollars, doesn’t mean Pharma companies want to pay taxes. Increasingly, they seek tax inversions, reincorporating in countries like Britain, Ireland or the Netherlands, often merging with a European entity to duck U.S. taxes. Continue reading

5 disturbing facts Big Food doesn’t want you to know

A few inconvenient truths you might need to know before tucking into that next bite of shrimp, beef or bacon.

From mercury in tuna and wood pulp in parmesan cheese to ground beef treated with ammonia to retard E. coli (“pink slime”), the press does a good job exposing the dangerous and deceptive practices of Big Food. The problem is, the public forgets about the food risk or contamination, assuming that reform is in the works and that is just fine with Big Food. Often nothing changes. Continue reading

Major Pharma scandal: Whistleblowers claim popular asthma drug was marketed illegally

Did Novartis and Genentech get away with this big marketing scam?

Asthma is big business for Big Pharma. Advair was the third best selling drug in the world in 2013 and the asthma drugs Singulair and Symbicort were also blockbusters. So it is no surprise the prospect of a high-tech injectable drug that stops an allergic response by binding to immunoglobulin E (IgE) made Big Pharma sit up and take notice. Continue reading

The Scalia-Cheney Axis of Evil

Like Henry Kissinger, it is easy to forget Dick Cheney is still alive until he makes a macabre appearance. But there he was, sitting in the front section of Justice Scalia’s memorial service at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, last week. Continue reading

How an army of pharma lobbyists in Washington have locked in one of the biggest corporate rip-off schemes in America

Pharma is creaming tens of billions out of the federal government in a variety of schemes

After an 18-month investigation into the high cost of Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Sovaldi—initially listed at $84,000 for a course of treatment or $1,000 per pill—the Senate Finance Committee said the prices did not reflect the cost of research and development and that Gilead cared about “revenue” not “affordability and accessibility.” That sounds like an understatement. Sovaldi and the related pill Harvoni cost Medicare and Medicaid more than $5 billion in 2014, charged senators. Continue reading

4 of the most commonly prescribed drugs that may be a lot more risky than pharma is letting on

The AMA is debating whether direct-to-consumer advertising should be banned

They are so common no one thinks twice about them: drug ads that tell you about a disease you might have, a pill that could treat it, and tell you to “ask your doctor” if the pill is right for you. Continue reading

Are you ingesting estrogen without realizing it from these everyday products?

It goes way beyond meat

It is no secret that our bodies and our environment are swimming in estrogen. Puberty is occurring in children as young as eight and, in 2010, babies in China were reported to be developing breasts. In 2011, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail observed that women’s bra cup sizes were growing even when the women themselves were not gaining weight and speculated it was estrogen exposure. And frogs and fish are becoming “intersex” and losing their male characteristics from endocrine disrupters in the environment and waterways. Continue reading

Pfizer: We’re aren’t paying no stinking taxes

You would think the drug company that made the best selling drug in the world—Lipitor—and the blockbuster Viagra would appreciate the country and patients who have been so good to it. You’d be wrong. Continue reading

Frankenfoods headed for the dinner table

Consumers, safety activists, Big Food, biotech companies and many of the US’s importing and exporting partners have been closely watching to see if the FDA would approve the genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon, which it did late in 2015. Of course unlabeled GE crops are eaten by millions and GE animals have been created to make human drugs largely under the public radar. Still the AquAdvantage Salmon is the first approved GE animal destined for the US dinner table. Continue reading

The drugstore in your meat

Most people couldn’t name one animal drug used to produce their food. Yet conventionally produced US meat is grown with antibiotics, vaccines, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones and other chemicals, most of which people would want to avoid if they were on the label. Continue reading

The rise and fall of the blockbuster antipsychotic Seroquel

The advent of direct-to-consumer advertising made billion dollar blockbuster drugs possible for the first time. Often the drugs were rushed to market before their side effects were fully known or admitted like the cardiac side effects with COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) side effects with bone drugs like Fosamax and Boniva. Continue reading

The healthiest Americans are those who avoid TV drug ads

Americans should be the healthiest people in the world with our advanced medical care. But thanks to direct-to-consumer advertising, they are some of the sickest in the world suffering from seasonal allergies, depression, mood disorders, dry eye, GERD, perimenopause, adult ADHD, sleep/wake disorders, restless legs, high cholesterol, thinning bones and spectrum disorders which may or may not even have symptoms. (Like people with “epilepsy spectrum disorder” who never had a seizure). Continue reading

Industry ghostwriters are behind many deadly products presented as ‘safe’

How much of what we believe about the “safety” of chemical and drug products is planted in journals by industry itself? A lot! Continue reading

Think corruption from pharma money has been stopped? Think again!

The years between the debut of direct-to-consumer drug (DTC) advertising in the 1990s and passage of the Physician Financial Transparency Reports (Sunshine Act) in 2010 were a kind of “Wild West” for the drug industry. Continue reading

Thanks, McDonald’s, for your egg consciousness, but don’t stop there

Before the animal rights movement, the egg was a kind of droll and comic object—used in phrases like “laid an egg” and “egg on my face,” and thrown at buildings or public figures. The chicken itself was comic–everyone’s favorite synonym for cowardice and for gender stereotypes (“mother hen” and “hen party”). A silly, overprotective bird that lays eggs and can barely fly? What’s not to ridicule? Continue reading

FDA Commissioner Hamburg appointed who as a deputy?

Many had high hopes for the FDA when Margaret Hamburg was confirmed as commissioner in 2009 because of her public health background. But she swiftly moved to loosen conflict of interest rules governing those who can serve on FDA expert advisory panels, claiming it was too hard to find experts without Pharma financial links. Continue reading

USDA’s clandestine ‘meat research’ called cruel

Many were shocked to discover the government uses our tax dollars to help the meat industry get more CPC (cash per carcass) out of food animals in clandestine and depraved experiments thanks to a New York Times expose last month. The taxpayer funded largesse at the 55-square mile U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, is especially shocking since the USDA also tells consumers to “limit red meat” on its food pyramid page. Why is the fundamental conflict of interest in the USDA supporting producers of food which harms the consumers it is sworn to protect tolerated? Continue reading

This cruel and stupid charity needs transparency

Heifer International is a Little Rock-based Christian charity that “ends hunger and poverty” through sending live animals to poor people overseas. Despite its Unicef style photos of cute kids hugging cute animals which will soon be dinner, its projects have ended in sickness and death for the animals. Continue reading

Fish show drug effects and we’re drinking the water

You don’t have to see a doctor to imbibe a witch’s brew of prescriptions pain pills, antibiotics and psychiatric, cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy and heart drugs in your drinking water. They are found in many public drinking water systems says the Associated Press. Also found in drinking water is the toxic plastic, Bisphenol A. Some of the Bisphenol A comes from plastic bottled water which people, ironically, drink to avoid tap water risks! Continue reading

Are you walking away from McDonald’s? Many are.

Since its founding in the 1940s, McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant, has navigated many threats to its bottom line. Other fast food companies have imitated and sought to improve on its concept. Labor activists have decried its treatment of workers. Food and environmental activists have assailed the way it has industrialized food production. The international community has deplored McDonald’s trade practices and protectionism. Animal welfare activists oppose its wholesale commodification and mistreatment of animals. And, of course, public health experts condemn its hawking of unhealthy, fattening food to children and adults. Continue reading

Broken mental health system makes patients prisoners, says Patrick Kennedy

This month, mental health and correctional professionals from all over the nation gathered in Chicago to address a problem that many are not aware of. People denied mental health services who end up homeless or incarcerated as criminals. Continue reading

Dog sleeping—everyone does it but no one admits it

A few years ago, a polling group made a startling discovery about America’s dog love. A surprising number of dog owners called their answering machines during the workday to talk to their dog. Many celebrated their dogs’ birthdays with gifts and parties. And most slept with their dog—unapologetically. It’s no dirtier than sleeping with a shoe, said one respondent. Continue reading

Did you or your children use this asthma drug?

Did you or your children use the blockbuster asthma drug Singulair? World sales of Merck’s drug were about $5 billion a year until 2012 when its patent expired and it was the U.S.’s seventh best-selling drug. But last month, data from an FDA committee were presented that acknowledge “safety concerns” about “neuropsychiatric adverse events, including suicide and suicide attempts” with the drug. Continue reading

Sleazy pharma front groups pretend concern for ‘mental illness’ while pushing pills

One out of four people has a “mental illness.” You hear the statistic all the time. People who were once “nervous” or “high strung” now have “general anxiety disorder.” People who have the “blues” from real life issues like job, relationship and family problems now have “major depressive disorder.” People who are “up and down,” again from real life issues, are now “bipolar.” Adults who can’t focus on the work at hand, either because they didn’t get enough sleep or because the work at hand is boring—hello?—have adult ADHD. All need to be on drugs indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of their life. And notably, all suffer from diseases that are medical “judgment calls” that can’t be verified by blood or other diagnostic tests. Ka-ching. Continue reading

Indiana sex slayings highlight society’s ‘throwaway women’

CHICAGO—At least seven women’s bodies have been found in Indiana within a few days in what appear to be serial, sex-related murders of women in high-risk lifestyles. Hammond police are holding Darren Vann, a convicted sex offender, in connection with the murders and say charges are possible in at least six other murders still under investigation. Continue reading

Many hope new rules will stop pharma tax dodgers

Just a few months ago, many US health corporations were eyeing tax inversions—reincorporating overseas, often merging with a European entity—to evade US taxes. Following the drug companies Mylan, Actavis, Perrigo, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Endo, the Illinois-based drug company AbbVie announced inversion plans last summer, to the joy of many investors. Continue reading

Are you really a size zero?

Size inflation gives Americans a false sense of thinness

It is a sad fact that many want to ignore. The more we work out, the more “diet foods” we eat, the fatter Americans are actually getting. A chilling documentary released this summer, Fed Up, narrated by Katie Couric, highlights Americans losing battle with the bulge and indicts government capitulation to the agricultural industries that make the most fattening food. Continue reading

Getting to sleep in a post-Ambien society

Are new or existing sleeping pills any safer?

It has been several years since the bloom fell off the rose of Ambien, the blockbuster sleeping pill. Recently, the FDA has warned about Ambien hangovers, sedation and the risk of dangerous driving and recommended lower doses. The FDA warnings came a year after Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and former wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, was arrested for what was believed to be Ambien-inebriated driving. The arrest came six years after her cousin, former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, son of Sen. Edward Kennedy, was also involved in an apparent Ambien-related traffic mishap. Continue reading

Victim of Chicago killer John Gacy becomes anti-bullying activist

CHICAGO—About 45 people gathered on a hot August night at a Chicago LBGT community center to hear a chapter in Chicago history that is often forgotten—how John Gacy prowled the streets of Chicago’s northside from 1972 through 1978, picking up young men and murdering at least 33 of them. Gacy, one of the most vicious mass murderers in U.S. history, was found guilty of the murders, sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois on May 10, 1994. Continue reading

Author of new book discusses shame and codependency

Codependents often have trouble being open, honest and assertive with intimate partners, says Darlene Lancer, an author and marriage and family therapist. In trying to manage, control and manipulate others, often by “people pleasing” or giving advice, codependents can “turn themselves into pretzels,” says Lancer. Now, in her latest book, “Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You,” Lancer addresses the role of shame and especially childhood shame experiences in codependency. Continue reading

Elanco is the Monsanto of the animal drug industry

Big Biotech, the chilling combo of genetic engineering, Big Chem, seed giants and Big Ag, is forging ahead in its hopes of dominating global agriculture and even patenting food production. Successfully fighting GMO labeling at home, the well-funded makers of Frankenfoods are also desperate to open overseas markets for Biotech which most of the world does not want. Continue reading