Big Pharma, are you ready for your close-up?

Blood MedicineIt’s movie awards season, and that reminds us that filmmakers are at work on new projects that might snag an award or two next year. And ever since the film Love and Other Drugs turned Jake Gyllenhaal into a Viagra sales rep, and director Steven Soderbergh‘s film Contagion made a vaccine researcher into a hero, Big Pharma’s a hot theme in the movie biz.

For example, a recent Reuters report says that Kathleen Sharp‘s book Blood Medicine (formerly Blood Feud) has just been optioned by the film production company, New Regency. This book is the true story of Mark Duxbury, a Johnson & Johnson drug rep-turned-corporate whistleblower. Duxbury repped for J&J’s biotech division Ortho, and was one of its top salespeople for its anemia drug Procrit – until he was fired, allegedly for warning that the drug could actually be harmful.

Here’s why this real-life script has suspense thriller written all over it.  Continue reading

Whistleblowing is dangerous to your health

The Russell Crowe movie, The Insider, was an Academy Award-nominated film based on the true story of a corporate Big Tobacco whistleblower. Until he went public, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand had been Brown & Williamson’s $300,000-a-year research director, described by the Wall Street Journal as “the highest-ranking defector in the history of the tobacco industry”.

Dr. Wigand decided to go public by delivering a damning courtroom deposition against his employer – a move that eventually led to the tobacco industry’s $246 billion litigation settlement in 1998 to help pay for smoking-related health care bills in the U.S.

But it turns out that a conscientious employee like Dr. Wigand who blows the whistle on dangerous or illegal acts faces a significant personal health risk, too, according to research published in the BMJBritish Medical Journal.

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‘Extreme exam anxiety’ – disability or excuse?

I’m thinking of getting my PhD from the University of Manitoba. Apparently, Winnipeg’s U of M will waive normal requirements for a PhD for those students claiming to suffer from extreme exam anxiety. I’m pretty sure I may have that. And a U of M whistleblower has now been suspended for protesting the doctorate in mathematics awarded to a U of M student who:

  • lacked the academic requirements for such a degree
  • had failed a required Comprehensive Candidacy exam two times
  • was then informed that the requirement to pass the exam would be waived – all because of this extreme exam anxiety.

To save time and money, to avoid those Winnipeg winters, and to minimize my own extreme exam anxiety, perhaps the University of Manitoba could just drop my PhD credentials in the mail for me. Isn’t that what other no-class diploma mills do when they decide to throw academic requirements out the window?
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