William Heisel, former investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times, writes about investigative health reporting. He is currently the director of global engagement at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman is the principal investigator of PharmedOut, an educational campaign aimed at showing physicians how marketing influences their prescribing decisions. Originally funded by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant, PharmedOut, among other things, offers continuing medical education to doctors, allowing them to earn credits without taking courses funded by drug or device companies.
The New York Times and the medical journal PloS Medicine won an incredible victory for patients and for health writers last week. They persuaded a judge in a lawsuit against drug makers to release 1,500 previously sealed documents that tell the story of how drug companies like Wyeth have been acting as ghost writers in medical journals.
The drug is too strong to be used as a sleep aid and deceptively simple to administer. Anesthesia drugs like propofol require constant monitoring, and Jackson, apparently, was
left unattended after receiving the drug.
Pia Christensen of the Association of Health Care Journalists responded to an earlier blog post that I had essentially ignored some good reporting on the Public Citizen report about how hospitals are failing in a very big way to report bad doctors to the National Practitioner Data Bank. She cited three stories, saying:
It sounds like a line a standup comic might use while flailing for a laugh: "What's a guy gotta do around here to get arrested? Steal somebody's kidney?"
If you are a doctor in a hospital in most of the United States, the answer is: yes.
UPDATE: The Associated Press reported Monday afternoon that Dr. Conrad Murray gave Jackson propofol to help him sleep, and the dose proved to be lethal. Today, police and federal drug enforcement officials are reportedly searching Murray's Las Vegas home.
It is the most anticipated autopsy in modern history.