“Punytive” damages: the biggest corporate fines ever

Since I’ve discovered the website called Information is Beautiful, I’m afraid that all my available free time for at least the next year or so will be consumed by pouring over this fascinating time-sucker of a site. The book of the same name has been published across the world in nine languages. All of it was conceived and designed by David McCandless, a London-based author, information designer and data journalist. As he explains:

“I’m into anything strange and interesting. A passion of mine is visualizing information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions – all with the minimum of words. Love pie – hate pie-charts.”   Continue reading

How other doctors (not you) are influenced by Big Pharma

The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars each year on handing out free samples of their expensive brand name drugs to physicians, who in turn hand them out to their patients.  As I’ve written about here and here, the obvious marketing truth is that no company would be doing this unless the strategy resulted in a significant increase in sales of those drugs.  When you’re looking at a global market for pharmaceuticals expected to top $1.1 trillion by next year, that’s a substantial incentive to keep up this practice. Still, very few physicians believe that doctors accepting billions of dollars in free drug samples annually has the slightest bit of influence on the way they practice medicine. Except, of course, when it’s those other docs out there who are accepting the freebies.  Continue reading

The myth of osteoporosis: blowing the whistle on the “epidemic”

When Dr. Victoria Seewaldt of Duke University School of Medicine reviewed a controversial new book about osteoporosis in the Journal of the American Medical Association* in 2005, she started off as an admitted skeptic. The review was for Gillian Sanson‘s book, The Myth of Osteoporosis: What Every Woman Should Know About Creating Bone Health. The book’s premise challenged almost every truism that most doctors believed – and may still believe – about osteoporosis.

Dr. Seewaldt is not only a physician, but also the daughter of an osteoporosis patient; her mother was diagnosed after fracturing a hip at age 72. She explained:

“Until her hip fracture, my mother was a ferocious shopper. Even in her early 70s, my mother would race down Fifth Avenue in New York City, shopping bags in hand, leaving me out of breath and begging for a rest.

“Then one day, my mother fractured her hip. Suddenly, our lives changed. For this reason, l initially approached Gillian Sanson’s book with significant reservations.”

But by the end of this book, Dr. Seewaldt found that her “reservations had turned to enthusiasm” Continue reading