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American Medical Association (AMA) To Shut Down Newsmagazine

Posted on 13. Aug, 2013 by .


I was upset today when I heard that the American Medical Association (AMA) is shutting down it’s newsmagazine. Crain’s Chicago Business has an article discussing this over at titled  “AMA to close news magazine,” written by Andrew L. Wang on August 12, 2013.

Now not only is the AMA shutting down the print circulation, but it is also shutting down which is the website for the publication. In recent years, I have enjoyed reading and keeping up to date on the many informative articles published. I have always thought the domain name choice was a bit poor, but the current Alexa traffic rankings shows a 167,229 in the World and 46,097 in the United States which is quite good.

The article by Chicago Business discusses that the print circulation has been going strong for 55 years and currently has 230,000 copies circulated. However, the article cites declining ad revenue from drug companies, increased competition from other news sources, and a migration of readers to the internet. The article describes the current path of the print circulation as unsustainable from a business standpoint. The publication will be shutdown on September 9, which is a few weeks away. In addition, the online website will also be shutdown but the content will remain until the end of the calendar year.

The Chicago Business article mentions that most of the revenue from the AMA magazine came from pharmaceutical advertising which has been down in recent years due to patent expirations and few new blockbuster drugs. The article mentions that this shutdown will not affect the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) as their primarily revenue source is institutional subscriptions with pharmaceutical advertising as second.

Now I personally found to be some of the highest quality and informative medical and health news on the web. However, I did feel like some of the articles were sometimes a bit biased and merely propaganda. Now I can understand closing the print circulation down but am not sure why they also decided to close down the online site. I would think that scaling back and adopting new strategies could be effective to take back marketshare online and turn a profit.

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Industry Bias in Biomedical Science

Posted on 26. May, 2012 by .


An interesting article written by Christopher T. Robertson titled “The Money Blind: How to Stop Industry Bias in Biomedical Science, Without Violating the First Amendment,” appears in the American Journal of Law and Medicine (vol. 37, pages 358-387, 2011).

The article discuses how the medical industry spends billions of dollars to create innovative products but also spends nearly as much to change the behavior patterns of those interested to make sure the products are purchased.

The author states

“As a veteran of the industry writes, ‘ in the pharmaeeutieal industry, there are two ways to market an approved drug for a new use: the ‘indication’ route—performing studies necessary for regulatory approval—or the ‘publication’ strategy, whieh stimulates off-label prescribing by using research ‘to disseminate the information as widely as possible through the world’s medical literature.’ “

A mention is made of a candid document by Pfizer which states

“What is the purpose of publications? The answer: the ‘purpose of data is to support, directly or indirectly, the marketing of our product.’ Or in short: “Purpose of Publications: The Bottom Line.’ “

The author mentions a quote by a judge

“The pervasive commercial bias found in today’s research laboratories means studies are often lacking in essential objectivity, with the potential for misinformation, skewed results, or cover-ups.”

The author later says

“Thus, as the industry succeeds in warping biomedical science to represent industry interests rather than physiological reality, it degrades the practice of medicine, harms patient welfare, and raids tbe treasuries of state and national governments.”

The author then goes in to discuss three current regulatory mechanisms 1) litigation, 2) peer review, 3) mandatory disclosure and then discusses why these mechanisms fail to solve the problem of corruption of industry on biomedical science.

The author then attempts to discuss the root cause of biased science by stating that the company chooses the investigator it wishes to support and may even ghost-write the article.

The author goes on to mention double-blind studies and how they are the gold standard:

“A double-blind study is one in which the human subjects are unaware of whether they are receiving a placebo or the studied intervention, and where the clinicians actually assessing the outcomes are also unaware of which subjects are in the “control” and the “treatment” conditions.”

The author states that even double-blind studies can cause biased studies and states that companies should be blinded to selection of investigators and not be allowed to handpick investigators who are likely to run favorable studies. Hence the author suggests some sort of intermediary between companies and investigators and mentions the NIH as possibly filling this role.

The author is wise enough at this point to mention that even the intermediary might become interested in helping out the companies for money and mentions scandals by the NIH in the early 2000s. The author then goes on to discuss some way sin which the money-blind can be implemented without violating the first ammendment.

The author states in conclusion

“There can be little doubt that biomedical science drives a significant portion of the practice of medicine and the billions of dollars of spent on healthcare in America each year. Thus the integrity of biomedical science would seem to be foundational to a well-functioning healthcare system. It is critical that biomedical science be objective, and tbat it appear objective, so that pbysicians and regulators can confidently rely upon it.”

“Money-blinding is thus a promising partial solution, even if it would not completely extirpate industry’s role in setting the agenda for biomedical science.”


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Second Opinion Advertisements for Dentists

Posted on 07. Jan, 2012 by .


An article in The Journal of the American Dental Association titled “Are Advertisements That Offer ‘Free Second Opinions’ Ethical by Rod B. Wentworth (October 1, 2011, vol. 142, no. 10, pages 1199-1200) talks about the ethics involved with dentists advertising “free second opinions.”

In the article it says

“So simply offering free second opinions is not in and of itself unethical. It is perfectly acceptable for a patient to seek a second opinion. In fact, dentists should consider suggesting that their patients obtain second opinions, especially when they have questions or concerns about the appropriateness of the recommended treatment.”

One issue raised in the article is that in a second opinion, if a patient has any x-rays they should be sent along with the patient for the second opinion to avoid unnecessary radiation.

The other issue raised is giving second opinions without making disparaging remarks about the patient’s dentist from the first opinion also known as jousting. Doing so can result in possible disciplinary action against the dentist and may have potential legal implications but as a patient if it was warranted I would like to hear the truth.

The purpose of a free second opinion would of course be to help dentists take patients away from each other.

I think second opinions from different dentists is a good idea in some cases but as addressed in this post knowing whether a dentist is being too conservative, too aggressive, or somewhere in the middle is difficult often for patients to know. I tend to think more dentists at least in the U.S. lean towards the aggressive side but certainly some are more conservative in their treatment approaches.

The author ends by saying

“Second opinions are not cut-and-dried in an ethical sense. Advertising them certainly is not unethical, and patients are free to select the dentist of their choice, which they may do on the basis of the information received in a second opinion. However, certain actions, such as criticizing a dentist unjustly, administering unnecessary tests or treatment, or misrepresenting fees, skills or experience may be unethical. Only the dentists involved know their motivation and whether it leads to unethical conduct. One hopes that dentists will take the high road to ensure that the oral health of the public and the welfare of patients are of primary importance”

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Rethink Breast Cancer: Your Man Reminder

Posted on 13. Oct, 2011 by .


A very interesting video was posted to YoutTube last week to help raise awareness for breast cancer. Several shirtless young men appear to show how to check for lumps in an effort to raise breast cancer awareness for younger women.

This is a Canadian campaign by a charity called Rethink Breast Cancer.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald. Sacha Molitorisz. Steamy spin sells health message. October 14, 2011.

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Facebook Ads

Posted on 05. Aug, 2008 by .


Recently, thanks to Visa, I have been advertising on Facebook this site. I was able to receive $100 free worth of advertising on Facebook. This is a pretty large number; however, a lot of people have been having problems achieving results with Facebook Ads. If you found myself through Facebook, thanks for coming!

I created a quick ad in facebook and launched a new campaign. I already had an account, so all I had to do to get the $100 free was to ad the Visa Business Application, check my email, and enter the code under the funding sources in billing.

Since I did not know where to bid I decided to start my biding at a modest $0.26. Immediately I was greeted with a typical message from Facebook Ads. “The bid on your ad may be too low to receive a significant number of impressions. We recommend raising your bid to at least ..”

Well I set my daily budget at $10.00. And guess what, I spent the entire daily budget in less than 5 minutes. With over 60,000 impressions as well. Give me a break Facebook.

facebook ads1 Facebook Ads

Anyways this told me I set my bid too high, so I lowered it to $.24. The next day my budget did not deplete nearly as fast, but it still didn’t take the whole day to spend the $10.00. So I knew I was still too high. The next day I decided to set my bid to $.21. Now I checked back later than evening, the ad had been running the whole day, and I still had not spent my budget, so I increased the bid by a few cents. By the end of the day, the budget had been spent.

What I learned from this, is that is possible to find out the right bid price for the ad you are running. Another tip, is to check the ad again in the early evening. If you still have not reached your budget, increase the bid by a cent or two. Just because Facebook does not allow you to target based on times, does not mean you can not manually do it. A lot more users are on in the evening hours anyways.

This graph shows how lowering my bid, even when Facebook told me it was too high, increased the amount of clicks I got for my budget of $10.00.

facebook ads2 Facebook Ads

I did not bother trying out different ads because impressions may have helped get traffic along with clicks so I was not really concerned with my CTR. However, I did notice that certain states in the U.S. seem to cost a few more cents for the same ad

If you are looking to learn more about Facebook Ads I recommend you check out NeilsWeb and Nicky Cakes.

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