Archive for September 2nd, 2009

On Pfizer's Illegal Promotions

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 2, 2009 2:43 pm

I always thought it was strange to hear about the expense accounts of friends (with no science background) working in pharmaceutical sales. Over the years, they have shared stories about wining and dining doctors, taking them to Yankees games and Broadway shows and so on, explaining this is ‘standard marketing practice‘. Still, it’s always seemed to me that prescribing medication shouldn’t really be about receiving a flashy sales pitch so much as following the Hippocratic Oath, you know? Turns out, I’m not the only who thinks so

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drug maker, will pay a record $2.3 billion civil and criminal penalty over unlawful prescription drug promotions.

Announcing the settlement Wednesday, the Justice Department said that it included the largest criminal fine in U.S. history — $1.2 billion. The agreement also included a criminal forfeiture of $105 million.

Authorities called Pfizer a repeat offender, noting it is the fourth such settlement of government charges in the last decade. They said the government will monitor the company’s conduct for the next five years to rein in the abuses.

To promote the drugs, authorities said Pfizer invited doctors to consultant meetings at resort locations, paying their expenses and providing perks.

“They were entertained with golf, massages, and other activities,” said Mike Loucks, the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts.

Loucks said that even as Pfizer was negotiating deals on past misconduct, they were continuing to violate the very same laws with other drugs.

Read on


Any Photographers Out There?

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 2, 2009 10:31 am

You may have noticed posting at The Intersection has slowed down a bit this week.  CM and I are both moving, writing, and traveling constantly right now, but our blog will return to normal soon. In the meantime, I’m working hard at finishing my next book, tentatively titled The Science of Kissing.

Among edits and re-writes, I’ve collected a series of photographs to include throughout the manuscript.  A terrific mix of scientists have provided cool and unusual images from various machines and places. I’ve also got some incredible shots from professional photographers.

Now I’m interested to find out whether readers might be able to contribute… You’ve been immensely helpful in the past and I especially like the opportunity to bring our audience on the journey of composition. When I requested help in June, the result was well over 1000 responses to the kissing photo survey. In fact, I finally had to take the images down when emails continued pouring in long after the corresponding experiment at NYU! I also greatly appreciate the help of my awesome volunteers from the summer.

So with that, a special invitation to all photographers, amateur or otherwise:

Have you ever taken a picture of bears nuzzling in the field or kissing fish? How about a provocative pair of human subjects? (With their permission!) Are you interested in having an image credited to you in a science book debuting next Fall? If you’re a photographer with intriguing pictures of kissing and cuddling [no higher than PG-13 content please], email me before September 14 at


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Media and Science

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