Get Asthmatic Lungs in Shape for Flu Season

October 28, 2009

By Kate Johnson – first published on Your Total Health. Read more..

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Americans – if any of you don’t want your H1N1 shots, can we Canadians have them?

By Kate Johnson – October 17, 2009

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Next week I head into the four-day World Congress on Diabetes in Montreal, where delegates will be sharing a lot more than just information. Spreading silently through the air ducts will be a variety of airborne viruses, including seasonal and H1N1 influenza. Some American, Australian and Chinese delegates will arrive fully vaccinated against these things, but I and my fellow Canadians remain unprotected.

Normally at this time of year I get the seasonal flu shot because I have asthma which often deteriorates into bronchitis or pneumonia. But this year no seasonal flu shot has materialized – and it may not be available until January, my neighborhood pharmacist tells me. Meanwhile, the H1N1 shot may be available in 2 or 3 weeks, according to the latest reports.

This doesn’t help me much.

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Spinning the Science: Big Pharma’s Not Alone.

By Kate Johnson – October  14, 2009

In just a few days Dr. Supachai Rerks-Ngarm, from Thailand’s Ministry of Health, and members of the U.S. Military will present their HIV vaccine study to their peers at the AIDS Vaccine conference in Paris.

It won’t be their first presentation of their findings, but they probably wish it was.

Their first presentation to the world’s media was a bit of a circus, that left many wishing the substance had matched the hype.

As a medical journalist I’ve seen my share of circus acts, and collected a whole folder of abandoned stories to show for it.

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Big Pharma and Medicine: Is it Unrealistic to Apply the Same Ethical Standards to Publishing Research?

By Kate Johnson – October 12, 2009

Commenting on my recent blog about medical ghostwriting, Adam Jacobs, Ph.D., emphasized his position that “most medical writing funded by the pharmaceutical industry is perfectly ethical, with no attempts made to ‘spin’ the science.”

Adam Jacobs is well-versed on the subject of ethical medical writing. He is former president of the European Medical Writers Association, set up the group’s ghostwriting taskforce in 2003, and co-authored the EMWA guidelines on the role of medical writers in peer-reviewed publications.

He may be right that medical writers do not spin the science themselves, but sometimes the science is already spun by the time it gets to them – and it’s not just pharmaceutical companies that do the spinning. As a medical journalist, I’ve seen independent researchers perform some clever manoeuvers with their data when presenting their yet-to-be published studies at scientific conferences.Read More »