360° Coverage : Dr. Paul Offit: 'Journalism Jail' For False...

2 Updates

Dr. Paul Offit: 'Journalism Jail' For False Equivalence In Medical Reporting

Mar 29 2014, 7:32pm CDT | by

DENVER, CO – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia chief of infectious diseases, pediatrician, vaccine developer and author, Dr. Paul W. Offit, called on broadcast and print reporters to avoid the “he...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

29 weeks ago

Dr. Paul Offit: 'Journalism Jail' For False Equivalence In Medical Reporting

Mar 29 2014, 7:32pm CDT | by

DENVER, CO – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia chief of infectious diseases, pediatrician, vaccine developer and author, Dr. Paul W. Offit, called on broadcast and print reporters to avoid the “he-said, she-said reporting” that perpetuates false controversies in science and medicine.

Offit’s comments came today in his keynote address at Health Journalism 2014, this year’s annual meeting of the Association for Health Care Journalists.

In his discussion of some continued–and faulty–reporting on an association between childhood vaccines and the incidence of autism, Offit said, “It’s easy to scare people. It’s harder to un-scare them.” His view is that vaccination rates will only increase because of outbreaks of otherwise preventable diseases such as measles and pertussis (whooping cough).

Who’s an “expert?”

Offit posed the question to journalists of what criteria establishes someone as an expert worthy of serving as a valid source or commenter on issues of health. On one hand, reporters and producers should held accountable for soliciting celebrities lacking qualifications in science and medicine whose unqualified opinions will be broadcast to millions or read by hundreds of thousands.

For example, Offit asked rhetorically why he has had to comment on what people like Donald Trump or Kristin Cavaliari think about autism and vaccines.

But he notes that his authority as a highly-trained and experienced professional should not be the only consideration.

“They don’t know the data,” said Offit. “What I say, what others say doesn’t matter. Where is the data?”

Offit added that he’s troubled by so-called journalistic “balance” when the contentions of only one side is supported by science. He called instead for “perspective” in reporting.

For example, he fully acknowledges that vaccines given to tens of millions of people do indeed cause side effects, and even fatalities, but that these events are extremely rare. But Offit noted that these side effects have absolutely nothing to do with causes invoked by many antivaccination activists.

Offit’s advice to journalists who have deadline pressures that preclude them from digging deeply into the medical literature is not to do the story at all.

Penalty box for poor health care reporting

In the Q&A that followed the talk, managing editor of The Daily Briefing and Forbes contributor, Dan Diamond, asked Offit if journalists write stories about “debate” on vaccines– and people die from not getting vaccinated–are we party to murder.

Offit responded with the idea that we should have “journalism jail” for such individuals.

Although that kicker brought some laughter among the audience, Offit later added more solemnly, “You work in a hospital and you watch children die from preventable disease–it makes you passionate.”

Vaccine costs and access/>/>

Award-winning, New York Times reporter, Elisabeth Rosenthal, asked Offit about an issue that should certainly be discussed with regard to vaccines: Shouldn’t we be reporting more on their costs, particularly the human papillomavirus vaccines, as a factor in access to this preventive medicine and suboptimal vaccination rates?

In this case, such discussion centers around whether a vaccine or drug manufacturer should be able to charge an appropriate price for the costs of developing and marketing a product that needs only to be given once per patient or, at most, a few times. In terms of profit margins, Offit called vaccines the “stepsister” of the pharmaceutical industry.

Profitability of vaccines is, however, open to much discussion. Offit himself is best known for his work in the 1980s that led to the development of a rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq®, licensed to Merck in 1992 by CHOP and The Wistar Institute. In 2008, CHOP sold their worldwide rights to royalties from the vaccine for $182 million. Offit’s personal or laboratory share has never been disclosed publicly but typical intellectual property agreements in academic research allow for the inventors to share in up to 25% of institutional income.

Regardless, vaccine costs are less than the collective costs–financially and in terms of human suffering–of treating a disease they’re intended to prevent (or reduce severity if still contracted).

The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases noted in 2009 that over half a million infants and young children worldwide were dying of rotavirus gastroenteritis each year. In the U.S., prior to the introduction of rotatvirus vaccines, rotavirus caused more than 400,000 physician visits, more than 200,000 emergency department visits, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations, 20 to 70 childhood deaths, and direct and indirect costs in excess of $1 billion.

The innovation and risks to develop a product that prevents such negative impact is certainly deserving of an appropriate return on investment, but access to such vaccines remains an issue that must be addressed.

AHCJ member discussion from the remainder of Offit’s talk can be viewed by searching the #AHCJ14 Twitter hashtag beginning around 2:45 pm EDT/12:45 pm MDT.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17 ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Mauritania closes border with Mali after Ebola death
Nouakchott, Oct 26 (IANS) Mauritania has closed its border with Mali after an Ebola death was confirmed in the border area this week, a health official said Saturday.
 
 
Number of Ebola cases crosses 10,000: WHO
Geneva, Oct 25 (IANS/EFE) The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed Saturday that the number of Ebola cases has risen to more than 10,000 in the eight affected countries, two of which, Nigeria and Senegal, had recently been declared free of the virus.
 
 
India-born Sundar Pichai is Google's new product chief
Washington, Oct 25 (IANS) In a major restructuring of Google management, India-born Sundar Pichai, who is already in-charge of Android, Chrome and Google Apps, has been made the chief of core Google products, according to a technology magazine.
 
 
Mali: Country with 300 Indians records first Ebola death
Accra (Ghana), Oct 25 (IANS) The authorities in the West African nation of Mali, where the Indian embassy says there are between 200 and 300 of its nationals, have confirmed the death of the country's first Ebola patient, a two-year-old girl.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Second MERS case reported in Qatar
Doha, Oct 23 (IANS) A 43-year-old man in Qatar has tested positive for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the second confirmed case of the deadly virus in 10 days, media reported Thursday. The patient had...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Two people die in Pakistan bomb blast
Islamabad, Oct 23 (IANS) At least two people were killed and 12 others injured in an explosion that took place in Pakistan's Balochistan province Thursday, media reported. The bomb was planted on a motorcycle, Dawn...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Trott extends contract with Warwickshire till 2017
London, Oct 23 (IANS) England batsman Jonathan Trott, whose mental issues led to his abrupt departure from last winter's Ashes tour, has confirmed his successful comeback to competitive cricket by signing a new three-...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Srikanth, Kashyap big movers in BWF rankings
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 23 (IANS) Indian men shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap jumped seven places each in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings released Thursday while Olympic bronze medallist...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Alvin Stardust dead
London, Oct 23 (IANS) English singer Alvin Stardust died after a short illness. He was 72. Stardust's manager confirmed the news about his demise Thursday, reports mirror.co.uk. He was recently diagnosed with...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Indian man reunited with family after 40 years
Dubai, Oct 23 (IANS) An Indian man, who had disappeared from his hometown in Kerala nearly 40 years ago, has been found by his family at a hospital in Dubai in the UAE, a newspaper report said. Now in his 60s, Abdulla...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Srikanth, Kashyap, Saina rise in world rankings
Kala Lumpur, Oct 23 (IANS) Indian men shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap jumped seven places each in the latest released Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings Thursday while Olympic bronze medallist...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Flintoff signs for Big Bash side Brisbane Heat
Brisbane, Oct 23 (IANS) Former England captain and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who retired from international cricket in 2009, Wednesday confirmed that he will play for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League (BBL) this...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
OPEC daily basket price falls again
Vienna, Oct 23 (IANS/WAM) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) closed at $81.94 a barrel Wednesday compared to $82.09 Tuesday, the OPEC Secretariat said. The new OPEC...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Lopez to sign multi-million dollar deal?
Los Angeles, Oct 23 (IANS) Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is reportedly in the final stages of securing a multi-million dollar deal to perform in Las Vegas. The 45-year-old is being offered $350,000 per show at The...
Read more on Celebrity Balla