Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

I love being the bearer of good news. Eliminating infant formula marketing in hospitals is decidedly a best practice employed by the vast majority of U.S. News and World Report’s top-ranked hospitals.  Public Citizen’s new report, Top Hospitals’ Formula for Success: No Marketing of Infant Formula, co-released by the Ban the Bags campaign shows how the vast majority of the nation’s most reputable hospitals are acting ethically and thwarting pressure from formula companies to aggressively market their harmful products.

Numerous studies show that mothers breastfeed with less frequency and for shorter durations when they receive formula company-sponsored bags with formula samples in hospitals at discharge. The bags often lead moms to believe hospitals endorse formula feeding and give up more easily on breastfeeding. Healthcare professionals overwhelming recommend that women breastfeed exclusively for the six months after birth, given its numerous health and economic benefits.

The report makes the following findings:

- Sixty-seven percent of top hospitals in gynecology (30 out of 45) reported not distributing formula company sponsored discharge bags, formula samples or other formula company promotional materials to mothers in their maternity units. Another 11 percent (5 of 45) reported limiting formula company-sponsored discharge bag and sample distribution to mothers who request them, or based on other criteria.

- Eighty-two percent (14 of 17) of U.S. News’ Honor Roll, of overall best hospitals, reported having a policy or practice against distributing formula company-sponsored discharge bags or other promotional materials.

- Eleven percent of hospitals in gynecology (5 of 45) still distribute formula company-sponsored materials, and a handful of hospitals did not respond to the survey.

The report re-affirms other data showing that hospitals have been steadily trending toward ending formula promotion over the past decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) survey, 27.4 percent of hospitals had discontinued the formula discharge bags in 2007 and by 2011, 45.5 percent had ended the practice. The number of Baby Friendly designated hospitals, prohibiting formula marketing, is increasing. Further, all hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have voluntarily banned discharge bags, while others including Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma and New York are progressively moving in that direction.

The formula companies should be the first to comply with the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and stop co-opting hospitals into advertising their products. But with profits at stake, they’re ignoring the Code. More than 16,500 people have signed Public Citizen’s petition calling on the three major formula companies – Abbott, Mead Johnson and Nestle—to stop marketing in healthcare facilities. Sign the petition and forward to friends before we deliver it to the companies next month. Visit our http://www.citizen.org/infant-formula to learn more about Public Citizen’s campaign to end formula marketing and what you can do to make change in your community.

Eva Seidelman is a Researcher for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert.

Public Citizen isn’t the only entity raising red flags about a federally funded trial involving premature infants.

Forty-five experts have declared that the trial used “seriously deficient” consent forms that violated requirements for clinical trials.

In a letter published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the 45 doctors, bioethicists and scholars criticized the consent forms used in the SUPPORT trial, which took place in approximately two dozen prominent research facilities throughout the country from 2005-2009. In the trial, 1,316 premature infants were exposed to an increased risk of blindness and death. One primary purpose of the research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was to determine whether extremely premature infants were more likely to die if treated with high or low amounts of oxygen.

The Office for Human Research Protections also has found the consent forms to be inadequate.

The experts noted that the risks to the babies in the study were not the same as the risks they would have encountered had they received the usual routine care outside the study. The risk of a baby dying was indeed foreseeable, which the consent form didn’t mention, they noted. The law requires consent forms to include, among other things, a description of any reasonably foreseeable risks.

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Party politics and big money interests often work in the shadows to defeat good public policy. An intersection of these two challenges in Washington state may have played a role in the failure of an erstwhile popular resolution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

Public Citizen is a key part of the nationwide movement to pass state resolutions calling for an amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases. The 2010 Citizens United ruling allows corporations to spend unlimited sums in elections independent of parties or candidates. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia already have called for an amendment to overturn the unpopular decision.

Poll after poll shows that large majorities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike disapprove of Citizens United and want to see limits on election spending by corporations, unions and individuals. Yet too often, party labels block passage of popular and desperately needed laws.

Earlier this year, the Washington Legislature was moving a resolution calling for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Thousands of Washingtonians called, emailed and visited their legislators to ask them to support the resolution. More than 15 Washington towns passed resolutions calling for an amendment, from the conservative Walla Walla to the more liberal Seattle.

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"Tyson Slocum" "Public Citizen"Was a $100,000 inaugural contribution linked to a utility’s newfound optimism about receiving an $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee?

We need more information to answer that question, but it sure seems fishy.

A Southern Co. executive told an audience at a Washington, D.C., conference last week that he is “newly optimistic” about receiving an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to build new nuclear reactors at a Georgia plant. The executive vice president of nuclear development, Joseph Miller, said he thinks the company can seal the deal by mid-year.

The statement came after the company gave $100,000 to President Barack Obama’s inaugural committee to help pay for festivities.

The timing is suspicious. Are the donation and optimism linked? It’s hard to tell. Decision-making about the loan guarantee program is cloaked in secrecy. But it is clear that robust financial assessments, not political decisions, should drive funding decisions and the terms of government loans, which should protect taxpayers.

Southern wants the money to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta, Ga. – the first new reactors built in this country in three decades. Given the high cost of new nuclear reactors, and the fact that the project already has encountered cost overruns, the taxpayer assistance is very important to the company.

The Obama administration should halt its negotiations with Southern Co. until a full record of all communications between Southern, its lobbyists and its lawyers, and all relevant agencies and the White House, is released to the public. Transparency is imperative to ensure public confidence in the process and ensure that this deal doesn’t stink like, well, rotten fish.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Follow him on Twitter @TysonSlocum

 

Public Citizen and many other organizations helped organize a historic gathering of climate activists in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

In case you missed Public Citizen Energy Director Tyson Slocum on Up With Chris Hayes discussing new legislation and the amazing momentum of the climate movement here are the three clips: introduction, panel discussion and predictions.

Also, you’ll definitely want to check out below video on YouTube to hear the perspectives of Texans opposed to the Keystone Tar Sands pipeline that traveled up with our Texas office for the big #ForwardOnClimate rally.

 

Finally, quotes from some of these Texans can be read here in this front page Huffington Post hit . Despite harsh conditions, more than double the expected number of activists came out to take a stand against from the largest climate rally in history. Meanwhile, we learned that as this historic rally was happening, the president was actually golfing with executives from Haliburton and other big oil and defense industry representatives. You can read that story here.

Follow our energy director @TysonSlocum and @PublicCitizenTx on Twitter to keep up with the latest on climate change.

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