NEJM and the pharmascolds

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) called the question: Has criticism of the pharmaceutical industry, and of physician relationships with that industry, gone too far? Are self-righteous “pharmascolds” blocking the kind of essential collaboration that brought streptomycin and other lifesaving treatments to market? The editorial by Dr. Jeffrey Drazen and the lengthy three–part […]

America's top selling drug is an antipsychotic

I learned recently that the antipsychotic Abilify is the biggest selling prescription drug in the U.S. (I try to stay calm and collected here, but that’s a fact worth boldface.) To be a top seller, a drug has to be expensive and also widely used. Abilify is both. It’s the 14th most prescribed brand-name medication, […]

Between medical paternalism and servility

Even today there are patients who leave diagnosis and treatment entirely to their doctors. They make no effort to inform themselves about their illness or chart their own course; they do whatever their doctors advise. Once the norm, this passive, willfully naive attitude has withered in the face of a multigenerational attitude shift, coupled with […]

Review of _Century of the Self_ (BBC documentary)

Edward Bernays (1891-1995)

It may have been a patient (I can’t recall) who suggested I search online for the 2002 BBC documentary by Adam Curtis called Century of the Self. It turns out the video is freely available at several sites; the full four-hour documentary can be viewed or downloaded here, or each of […]

The APA annual meeting: a photo essay

As posted previously, last month I attended the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) annual conference. Straying from my usual format, I thought I’d post pictures from the meeting and, of course, offer comments. The meeting took place in Moscone Center, a conference center complex located just south of Market Street in downtown San Francisco. Depicted here […]

Going to the APA meeting?

The annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is in San Francisco this May. I’ve attended twice before as I recall, both times when it was here. I enjoyed it, and even felt it was worth the $1000 we non-members pay to get in, although in my opinion it’s not worth doubling that for […]

Conflicts of interest in medical education: Disclosure may not help

Yesterday’s New York Times had an interesting op-ed, “Stumbling into Bad Behavior,” about corruption and unethical conduct in corporate and financial settings. The authors, Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel, are academics who wrote a book about ethical blind spots. They note that regulators, prosecutors, and journalists tend to focus on corruption caused by […]