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Even the most curious of Dr. Barbara Philipp's patients probably didn't notice that she had a drug problem.

That's because her patients were kids.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine wrote in its disciplinary report that the 55-year-old Boston pediatrician wrote fake prescriptions for family members and friends just to get painkillers and sleeping pills for herself.

William Heisel's picture

Six of the world's biggest drug companies are about to be winnowed down to three. If all the mergers go through, we will have Pfizer-Wyeth, Merck-Schering-Plough and Roche-Genentech controlling more than $100 billion in drug sales every year - amounting to one seventh of all revenues for drug companies worldwide. (I wrote a story about this a couple weeks ago for the Los Angeles Times.)

William Heisel's picture

This UCI orthopedic surgeon is on the shortlist for the U.S. Surgeon General job. He has been an outspoken critic of medical device companies and is fighting to limit the influence of money on medicine.

Here is a recap of our conversation:

Q: You were in Washington last year testifying before Congress about doctors who are paid by companies to put in certain medical devices. Did they understand why you were so concerned about this?

William Heisel's picture

When the Peanut Corporation of America recalled thousands of peanut butter products in January for fear they were tainted with salmonella, news organizations all over the country rushed to local stores to find out what where PCA products were being sold. Justina Wang, 25, a recent Northwestern University grad who works at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, went a step further.

William Heisel's picture

The transaction was quick.

In the parking lot of a pastry shop, a patient handed Dr. Kachun ClementYeung $400. Yeung handed the patient a prescription for 800 milligrams of OxyContin. It took less than five minutes.

The exchange was part of 23,000 milligrams worth of the addictive painkiller that Yeung prescribed to patients who were never properly diagnosed with chronic pain during a 168 day period in 2002.

William Heisel's picture

Justina Wang at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle tackled a topic that seems to scare most local publications: food safety.

With each food poisoning scare, local reporters cover what's happening at their corner stores. Few examine the root causes. With school board meetings, octuplet moms and a weekender due tomorrow, how could one possibly get to the bottom of our fractured food safety system?

William Heisel's picture

We seem to be gripped by a national state of shock at the news that Nadya Suleman, a single mother with no job and six children, was able to have eight embryos implanted in her uterus, all of which resulted in children.

William Heisel's picture

Imagine if your doctor asked your 12-year-old son to explain to you that you had just been diagnosed with cancer. Get tips and story ideas for covering medical translation, a critical service for millions of patients who don't speak English well.

Americans' penchant for rating everything from tech gadgets to restaurants to professional services online - sometimes in novella-length missives - is extending to health care professionals, and entrepreneurs nationwide are cashing in on the trend.

Barbara Feder Ostrov's picture

Health care reporters know how rarely hospitals suspend a doctor's privileges. Those rights are granted and revoked by other doctors, and doctors are loathe to set a precedent by saying a botched surgery or missed diagnosis should bar a doctor for life.



That's why it was a big deal when the Reston Hospital Center in Virginia took away Dr. Bahram Tafreshi Moshiri's right to practice there in November 2001.

William Heisel's picture

One would think that everything that could possibly be said about lead poisoning has been printed, broadcast and e-mailed around the globe countless times.

William Heisel's picture

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In this webinar, will look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a terrifying new reality for domestic violence victims, how organizations and authorities are trying to innovate in response, and how reporters can cover the story in their community. Sign-up here!

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