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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
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“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.)
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“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.
“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
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.

# 23 FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drug

NewStandard, April 20, 2007
Title: “FDA Complicit in Pushing Prescription Drugs, Ad Critics Say”
Author: Shreema Mehta

Student Researchers: Lauren Anderson, Corey Sharp-Sabatino, and Marie Daghlian

Faculty Evaluator: Noel Byrne, PhD

While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) turns a blind eye, drug companies are making false, unsubstantiated, and misleading claims in their advertising, often withholding mandated disclosure of dangerous side effects. Though companies are required to submit their advertisements to the FDA, the agency does not review them before they are released to the public. A Government Accountability Office report released November 2006 found that the FDA reviews only a small portion of the advertisements it receives, and does not review them using consistent criteria.

Claiming lack of funds and resources necessary to impose effective regulations on drug marketing, the FDA is asking Congress to charge drug companies fees in order to fund FDA review of advertisements before they go public as part of renewing the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA). PDUFA has come under fire from consumer advocates who say it gives the pharmaceutical industry too much leverage over the FDA and has resulted in rushing drugs to market. But the FDA hopes that if Congress approves the plan, it will raise more than $6 million annually through “user fees” to review advertisements.

Although Congress may approve the plan, author Shreema Mehta says a range of public-interest groups, from ad critics at Commercial Alert to senior advocates at Gray Panthers, want an outright ban on all prescription drug advertisements. Public Citizen and Consumers Union warn that the FDA review of drug advertisements will likewise be tainted if funded by the very companies the FDA is charged with scrutinizing. Critics are calling for stricter regulations over drug companies and they say eliminating the financial ties between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry should be the first step.

But the pharmaceutical industry is not the only industry that benefits from inconsistent FDA reviews and inadequate investigations of advertising claims. One of the nation’s biggest infant bottled water companies, Nursery Water, is misleading parents with erroneous information and false health claims on its website and in advertising materials, touting the safety and benefits of fluoride in infant bottled water, in clear violation of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FDA rules.

A letter sent from scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to officials at the FDA and FTC uncovers EWG’s extensive review of Nursery Water’s claims that both misrepresent the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which states, “supplementary fluoride should not be provided during the first six months of life” (AAP 2005), and contradict the official position of the FDA, which states, “the health claim [for fluoride] is not intended for use on bottled water products specifically marketed for use by infants” (FDA 2006).1

Mehta reports that representatives from the food and pharmaceutical industries say banning ads would violate the First Amendment. “In our system of jurisprudence we have a very high threshold that protects the right to free speech, whether it’s political or commercial,” Jim Davidson, attorney for the drug-company-funded Advertising Coalition, told the Associated Press.

Mehta warns of the increased leverage food and drug companies may have over the FDA should Congress approve the fee plan. She reports that in 2005, pharmaceutical companies spent about $4.2 billion in advertisements aimed at the public, known as “direct-to-consumer” ads, up from about $2.5 billion in 2000 and $1.1 billion in 1997. And the promoting of drugs to physicians, with almost $7.2 billion spent in 2005, dwarfs advertising to the public. At the same time, public spending on prescription drugs has steadily increased, reaching about $140 billion in 2001, more than tripling since 1990.

Meanwhile, Mehta reports that it’s not clear whether the FDA reviews most advertisements at all. The agency can direct drug companies to change their advertisements after they are released to the public if it finds they violate regulations, but does no screening before the release of ads that may be dangerously deceptive.


1. Anila Jacob, M.D., M.P.H. and Jane Houlihan, “EWG calls for Investigation of Nursery Water,” Environmental Working Group, February 1, 2008.


Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever before, leading the world in drug consumption and reaping huge profits for pharmaceutical companies. America is also one of the few countries that allow public advertising of prescription drugs. This is not a coincidence. Many doctors and consumer advocates have criticized advertisements featuring beaming people explaining how Valtrex changed their lives as deceptive, inaccurate, and invasive to the doctor-patient relationship. Many activists favor an outright ban on prescription drug ads; others call for strict regulation. This article dealt with the FDA’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry and its proposal to regulate what critics feel is dangerously deceptive advertising by charging drug companies to review their commercials.

A few months after this article ran, President Bush renewed the Prescription Drug User Fee, which includes the industry-funded review process of drug advertisements, putting into effect what critics argue is yet another conflict of interest in the agency.

Though the Washington Post ran several articles on PDUFA, few explored the importance of the new proposal for company-funded advertisement regulation. Though press coverage of the problems of drug advertising is slim, advocacy groups remain active on the issue.

Commercial Alert runs a prescription drug ad campaign that is currently working to raise support for the Public Health Protection Act, which would ban drug ads designed for the public. They are on the web at The Consumers Union also supports this bill. Learn more about their campaign at

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