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“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
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“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
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“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)

18. Nationwide Collusion between Drug Companies and Pharmacists

Source: THE NEW YORK TIMES, Date: 7/29/94, Title: “Pharmacists Paid To Suggest Drugs,” Author: Gina Kolata

SSU Censored Researcher: Susan Kashack

SYNOPSIS: Major drug companies have started to pay pharmacists to promote their drugs over those of their competitors.

In an investigative report in The New York Times, Gina Kolata explains how the process works at Medco, a company that buys drugs from manufacturers and sells them through pharmacies and mail orders to 38 million Americans: “When customers appear with pre­scriptions for high blood pressure medicine, for example, the pharma­cist often advises them that they could receive another, similar drug for less money, under their Medco plan. Would it be O.K., the phar­macist might ask, if they called the doctor and had the prescription switched to the other drug?”

About 80 percent of the doctors say “no problem” when asked to approve the switch since they have no reason to doubt the good inten­tions of the pharmacists and because the new drugs often save the patient money. Studies also show that over a period of time, after repeated requests to switch the drug, doctors eventually start writing all prescriptions for that particular brand of medicine.

However, what the patient and doctor may not know is that Medco is owned by Merck, a major drug manufactures, that the other drug is made by Merck, and that Merck will pay the pharmacist a cash com­mission for arranging the switch.

Merck pays rebates of six to ten percent of the wholesale price of each `drug sold to pharmacists who dispense the company’s line of generic drugs and also pays phar­macists $5 per prescription for increasing sales of the total line of drugs from Medco.

While Merck pioneered this new arrangement when it bought Medco last year, it is not alone. In May of 1994, SmithKline Beecham bought Diversified Pharmaceutical Services, which handles prescrip­tion drugs for 11 million people; in July, Eli Lilly said it would buy PCS Health Systems, which has enrolled 50 million Americans.

Some say there is nothing wrong with paying pharmacists for helping patients get the best drug at the best price. John Doorley, a Merck spokesman, said pharmacists would suggest a switch only if it would help a patient. However, other critics point out that pharmacists, who traditionally are ranked at the top of trusted professionals in opinion polls, are no longer disin­terested parties once they start get­ting paid to recommend specific drugs.

“It’s outrageous, it’s manipula­tive and it’s dishonest,” said James Love, who follows the drug industry for the Center for the Study of Responsive Law.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “Traditional medical ethics is being replaced by traditional busi­ness ethics.” At the very least, he pointed out, any arrangements between pharmacists and drug companies should be explicitly dis­closed to both doctors and cus­tomers.

Further, by adding an additional expense to drug distribution, the manufacturers are further increasing out-of-control health care costs which already are plaguing the American people. Sooner or later that additional cost is passed on to the consumer.

COMMENTS: Journalist Gina Kolata said the issue of medical kickbacks to pharmacists was largely ignored last year. She also pointed out that patients-and doctors-have a right to know that their pharmacist may no longer be as disinterested a party as before. `Although the pharmacist is widely viewed as an advocate for patients,” Kolata added, “that role may be a relic of the past.” The primary ben­eficiaries of the minimal coverage given this subject are the drug com­panies and pharmacists according to Kolata.

It should be noted that drug makers’ kickbacks are not restricted to pharmacists. An editorial in USA Today (10/19/94) criticized drug makers for sometimes offering kick­backs to physicians who used their products.

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