ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

25 November 2001

DIRTY TRICKS CAMPAIGN TO DISCREDIT PHARMA CRITIC/ETC.

All items except 1 and 3 via PR Watch - www.prwatch.org:
1. Pitching Pharma: Biotechnology and the Media
2. Code of Silence Over Ethics Review
3. Row brews over dirty tricks allegation
4. Pharmas Tap Edelman to Handle Bioterrorism
5. Killer Named Philip Morris Says "Call Me Altria"
6. Corporate Advertisers Dictate News Content
7. Let's Not Talk About Arsenic
8. Skeptics of the Skeptical Environmentalist

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1. Pitching Pharma: Biotechnology and the Media

Clive Cookson [FT correspondent]
Drug Discovery Today, November 9, 2001

One of my pet hates is to receive a release giving clinical trial results that purports to come from an academic  centre but, when read closely, is actually from a PR agency working for a pharmaceutical company. I regard it almost as deceitful for companies to bury their involvement in a project, in the hope that naïve journalists will be more likely to write about it if they think it is a university project.

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2. Code of Silence Over Ethics Review

Dogged by controversies involving PR companies, the 2200-member Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), has initiated a review of its code of ethics. Trouble is, some of those who have pushed for just such a review know precious little about it. Keith Jackson, chairman of Jackson Wells Morris (one of Australia's top 10 PR firms), resigned in protest from the PRIA in August, saying it had "stonewalled" his efforts to establish an ethics review that would make the industry "operate in a more open and accountable way." Now it turns out that the PRIA has initiated an ethics review, but the only parties privy to its deliberations are the PRIA's secretive "College of Fellows." Jackson argues that an ethics review behind closed doors will fail to address "the real problems" within the industry, "like astro-turfing, conflicts of interest, disinformation and what I call black spin -- the lies and the half truths around situations which are deliberately put out."
Source: The Australian, November 22, 2001

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3. Row brews over dirty tricks allegation

Ray Moynihan
Australian Financial Review, Nov 7
http://afr.com/premium/australia/2001/11/07/FFXJNIMJOTC.html

A public relations company working for the pharmaceutical industry has been accused of running a secretive dirty tricks campaign to discredit an industry critic.

Sydney-based Susan Andrews Communications Group, which helped promote arthritis pill Celebrex for Pfizer and Pharmacia, was named in last week's Medical Observer magazine as the source of leaked documents attempting to smear former Government drug adviser Professor David Henry.

According to the magazine, Ms Andrews facilitated delivery of leaked Government documents accompanied by anonymous allegations - rejected by Professor Henry and the University of Newcastle - that he was biased in favour of certain drugs.

Professor Henry is one of 10 former drug advisers who were sacked or resigned when the Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, shook up his advisory board and appointed a former industry figure earlier this year.

Following the revelations about the PR company's involvement, the Opposition health spokeswoman, Ms Jenny Macklin, promised to fully pursue the source of the leak if elected. Ms Andrews has so far declined to answer questions.

Public relations expert Mr Bob Burton described the attempt to discredit individual academics as a "stealth attack" designed to stifle dissenting points of view.

Australian Medical Association president, Dr Kerryn Phelps, said the dirty tricks were "a desperate political ploy, and totally inappropriate".

Public Relations Institute president Mr Jim Macnamara said: "Dirty tricks campaigns, designed to deliberately discredit somebody are not part of the standard PR kit. Under our code, PR professionals must practise fairly and honestly."

Coincidentally, Ms Andrews is understood to have been involved in recent industry talks to try to improve the reputation of PR companies working with pharmaceutical giants.

Pfizer and Pharmacia strongly deny any connection with the leak or attempts to discredit academics, and Ms Andrews recently lost the contract to promote Celebrex.

Refusing to answer questions about whether Ms Andrews had any contact with Dr Wooldridge's staff in the lead-up to the leak of Government documents, a ministerial spokesman said: "Bureaucrats leak all the time - what is unusual here is that they seem to have turned on one of their former  golden boys."

A departmental inquiry into the leak is continuing.

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4. Pharmaceutical Industry Taps Edelman to Handle Bioterrorism

The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) has hired Edelman Public Relations Worldwide to help position the pharmaceutical industry as a "leading source of information to the public" on the issue of bioterrorism. For the other side of the story, check out what Corpwatch.org has to say about wartime profiteering by drug companies and the controversy on patented drugs which started when the first signs of anthrax attacks appeared in the US.
http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/wto/featured/2001/ksingh.html
Source: Holmes Report, November 19, 2001

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5. Killer Named Philip Morris Says "Call Me Altria"

Tobacco and food conglomerate Philip Morris wants to change its name to Altria, perhaps because the Latin-esque moniker connotes "altruism," as in the millions and millions of dollars the company donates each year to arts, culture and social welfare groups to whitewash its evil image. Now the whitewashing includes an alias. Philip Morris has waged perhaps the most successful, expensive and deadly PR campaign of the past century, misleading the public to prevent regulation of its addictive tobacco products. Re-naming itself Altria is just its latest tactic to hide the truth: this corporation kills millions every year.
Source: New York Times
[for how Philip Morris connects to the pro-GE anti-organics dirty tricks
campaign see: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/pants6.htm]

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6. Corporate Advertisers Dictate News Content

How much is your local TV news influenced by the people who buy ads? In a survey of 118 news directors around the country, more than half, 53 percent, reported that advertisers pressure them to kill negative stories or run positive ones. The pressure to do puff pieces about sponsors occurs "constantly," "all the time," "everyday," "routinely," and "every time a sales person opened his/her mouth," news directors reported.
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism

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7. Let's Not Talk About Arsenic

Newspapers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and Boston, including chains owned by the publishers of The Wall Street Journal and the Boston Herald, are refusing to carry a paid advertisement criticizing retail giant Home Depot for selling lumber treated with dangerous amounts of arsenic, according to a news release from the Healthy Building Network and the Environmental Working Group.
http://www.ewg.org/reports/poisonwoodrivals/

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8. Skeptics of the Skeptical Environmentalist

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is urging journalists to exercise caution in  reporting on the new book by Bjørn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist. The book, which has been heavily publicized, makes extraordinary claims: that environmental quality is improving around the world, and that the environmental community is not telling the truth for its own cynical reasons. WRI's media kit, "Debunking Pseudo-Scholarship: Things a Journalist Should Know About The Skeptical Environmentalist," now available on-line, debunks these claims and includes links to other sites, including one created by Lomborg's Danish colleagues to refute his conclusions.
http://www.wri.org/wri/press/mk_lomborg.html

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