Furor Over Drug Prices Puts Patient Advocacy Groups in Bind

Public anger over the cost of drugs has burned hot for a year, writes The New York Times, coursing through social media, popping up on the presidential campaign, and erupting in a series of congressional hearings, including one last week over the rising price of the allergy treatment EpiPen. But one set of voices has been oddly muted — the nation’s biggest patient advocacy groups. The groups wield multimillion-dollar budgets and influence on Capitol Hill, but they have been largely absent in the public debate over pricing.  But critics say that by avoiding the debate over cost, they are failing in their patient-advocacy duties. “It is a conflict of interest, because the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, from whom they are getting support, may be different from the interests of the patients,” said Dr. Michael Carome, the director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group.

Driverless Cars — Public Health Solution or the New Face of Automania?

By Nicholas Freudenberg

Last week, the New York Times reported that the driver of a Tesla Model S electric sedan was killed in an accident when the car was in self-driving mode. This was the first known death involving a vehicle being driven by itself by means of computer software, sensors, cameras and radar. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, and the car failed to apply the brakes.  Some observers labeled the accident a setback for driverless cars.

Continue reading Driverless Cars — Public Health Solution or the New Face of Automania?

The S.U.V. Arms Race Goes Upscale

One of the last big profit centers for Detroit’s automakers, the sport utility vehicle, is under siege, reports the New York Times. An onslaught of competitive new S.U.V.s, especially in the most profitable high-end segment, is in the development pipeline or already showing up in dealer showrooms. At this year’s New York International Auto Show, the star attractions weren’t the usual sleek sports and muscle cars, but new luxury S.U.V.s from Jaguar, Maserati (where a line formed for a chance to be enveloped in the wood-and leather-lined interior) and even Bentley, which had its new Bentayga safely cordoned off behind velvet ropes.

Soda Scandal: Journalists Fail to Reveal Sources Funded by Coca-Cola

During the investigation and subsequent subsequent collapse of the Coca-Cola Global Energy Balance Network, the New York Times and Associated Press discovered that prominent university professors working on obesity issues had been funded by The Coca-Cola Company. This is not just a public health scandal.  It is a journalistic one as well, writes Gary Ruskin on Alternet.