Usually news organizations highlight the ethical transgressions of inside-the-Beltway interest groups. Last week, however, the interest groups turned the tables.
Five healthcare public-advocacy groups publicly criticized Newsweek for publishing an October special health edition titled "Health for Life" in partnership with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The edition, the groups charged, was exclusively funded by PhRMA advertising.
The groups, led by drug company nemeses Families USA and Public Citizen, said the edition included articles that promoted PhRMA's lobbying positions and a letter from a lobbying coalition called Citizens for Better Medicare, which the organizations charged is funded by drug companies.
Ronald Pollack, Families USA's executive director, said the relationship "tacitly results in that magazine's support of the lobby's political agenda." The groups objected to the advertising deal in a joint letter to Richard Smith, Newsweek's chairman and editor in chief. Smith was unavailable for comment.
Middle Eastern leader visits N.Y. hospital. The emir of Qatar visited New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Burn Center in New York last week in apparently the first official visit of a Middle Eastern leader in the aftermath of the World Trade Center collapse. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani donated $1 million to the burn unit, which treated the most severely injured patients from the disaster.
The emir came to New York to reaffirm plans announced earlier this year to establish the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (June 18, p. 90). But other matters have since taken center stage.
"I find it very difficult to address you here without referring to the matter that is on everyone's mind, surely the tragedy that befell New York and Washington, D.C.," he said in Arabic, translated into English by an interpreter. "I would like to extend to all of you my personal condolences and those of the people of the state of Qatar on the tragic event and the immense losses as a result. As you know, we are against all forms of terrorism."
Although it was prepared for much more, New York-Presbyterian's 46-bed burn unit received 25 patients in the hours after the attack. Four died, and nine remain in very critical condition.
Designer genes. Wouldn't it be nice to have your very own little Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts?
In the not-too-distant future, nothing may prevent overadoring fans from acquiring the DNA of their favorite celebrities and taking it to a lab for a copy. Nothing except the DNA Copyright Institute, a San Francisco-based start-up that's offering stars protection from "DNA theft and misappropriation, cloning and other unauthorized activities."
No one has cloned a human yet, but the company's president and chief executive officer, Andre Crump, says it's not too early for actors, supermodels, sports stars and others to legally protect themselves against unwanted body doubles.
Crump conjures up surreal scenarios where fans acquire DNA samples by snatching celebrities' wine glasses and cigarette butts or surreptitiously scratching their skin during a handshake.
For a one-time $1,500 fee, DNA Copyright will swab saliva samples from clients' inner cheeks and pay established labs to obtain their DNA profile and store the results in a database in case they're needed for future legal action.
"Once human cloning is possible, or near possible, the probability of DNA theft will increase exponentially," he says. "People will, of course, want to clone themselves, but more probable is their desire to clone someone else, most likely someone extremely attractive, intelligent or famous."
Tragedy hits home for association chief. Among those who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was William McGinly, longtime president and chief executive officer of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.
McGinly's 26-year-old son, Mark, was working at Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center when the building was attacked. He is survived by his parents, two brothers and a grandmother. A graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna, Va., and Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pa., Mark was a golf team captain in high school and college.
AHP board Chairman Milton Smith said he has been keeping in daily contact with AHP staff in Falls Church, Va. "It's sad for all of us," said Smith, who is president of the John Muir Medical Center Foundation in Walnut Creek, Calif.
Mark's mother, Patricia McGinly, is an elementary-school principal, and the family has chosen to benefit education in his memory. Tax-deductible contributions may be made to the Mark R. McGinly Memorial Scholarship Fund at United Bank, 2071 Chain Bridge Road, Vienna, Va. 22182.