REPORTING THE TRUTH AT CAMP PHARMALOT
Ed Silverman's work first appeared on my radar a few months ago when I discovered his terrific blog called "Pharmalot." Pharmalot is SO credible because Silverman has made pharmaceuticals his specialty. He is a “big picture” reporter — and his years of experience have enabled him to cut through the bull to report only the facts.
Silverman is a prize-winning journalist who has covered the pharmaceutical industry for The Star-Ledger of New Jersey for 12 years, but his six years with Newsday and another stint at Investor’s News Daily obviously helped shape his journalistic prowess. In the past few days alone, he has reported on the NIH and their own Financial Conflicts Of Interest, how drug maker AstraZeneca “Knew Seroquel Risks For Years,” and perhaps most shockingly, in reports from Australia, that “nearly 4,000 children under the age of 10 were prescribed antidepressants last year, including 553 children under five and 48 babies, even though no antidepressant is approved in Australia for the treatment of depression in children and adolescents.”
According to his website, Silverman has been investigating all aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing, including, “drug development; mergers and acquisitions; regulatory oversight; safety and pricing controversies, and marketing issues” — and it shows.
Day after day, week after week, Silverman has revealed the kind of insightful information one really needs to be an informed consumer. On Nov. 26th, Silverman wrote, “we learned that reknowned Harvard University psychiatrist Joseph Biederman pushed Johnson & Johnson to fund a research center at Massachusetts General Hospital that would focus on the use of its Risperdal antipsychotic in children, well before the med was approved for pediatric use.” This is same class of drugs that has been exposed for causing diabetes — a fact documented in GENERATION RX during my interview with another famed Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint.
Recently Silverman posted another article on the site at HealthJournalism.org that the British Medical Journal (BMJ) was upset “when the UK media reported results of a study about the effects of caffeine in pregnancy - before BMJ had a chance to publish online.” This outrage came despite the fact that the subesequent stories only involved caffeine, which is hardly as dangerous as most mainstream medicines. Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) also displayed their anger with the New York Times for publishing a story about measles when the information was supposed to be embargoed. This “gentleman’s agreement” between journalists and the agencies they cover prompted the following reply by me on their website:
“The fact that WHO punished The New York Times after breaking an embargo on a story about measles only points to how far the journalistic community has fallen over the past few decades.
Since WHEN has it been acceptable for journalists to be so closely aligned with WHO? Ditto the BMJ and New England Journal of Medicine!! Too many reporters have lazily become "part of the system" and look at their insider's connection as a competitive edge.
WRONG. What this mentality has fostered is nothing more than an "Inside the Beltway" mentality, where too many health reporters take the PRESS RELEASES doled out by NIH, NIMH, FDA, NEJM, WHO etc etc etc — and print them as Gospel truth!
As Mr. Silverman has pointed out repeatedly, this kind of uncritical acceptance of "the state of healthcare" from those who have financial and vested interests is a big part of the problem.
As I have shown in my recent film GENERATION RX, scores of people are dying — and scores of children are being prescribed drugs that have NEVER been proven to work better than placebo.
It is only recently coming to light, but why aren't there more journalists challenging the drug companies and the aforementioned agencies? Why aren't more of you digging for the truth?
Look in the mirror. Times are tough all over. But if you deliver the Truth after years of lies you will be able to distinguish yourselves from the rest of the pack.
In my opinion that's what Gardiner Harris of the New York Times has done, along with Ed Silverman.”
IN THE CRITICAL QUEST FOR HEALTH INFORMATION, we all face the same obstacles. Without journalists who are willing to dig for information — without the few courageous souls who willingly stand up to government agencies and the drug makers, we are lost. Make no mistake: it is difficult to find — and report on the truth.
Amid the horde of questionable reporting, there are indeed journalists who ooze integrity — men and women who challenge the Press Releases being poured forth into the mainstream media every day.
So do yourself a favor. Visit www.Pharmalot.com and explore the work of Ed Silverman. As I’ve written many times, each of us needs to be armed with the truth so we can make informed choices about healthcare.
Ed Silverman and Pharmalot represent that truth — and the finest journalism has to offer.