Starting Jan. 1, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to a voluntary moratorium on the kind of branded goodies — Viagra pens, Zoloft soap dispensers, Lipitor mugs — that were meant to foster good will and, some would say, encourage doctors to prescribe more of the drugs.
No longer will Merck furnish doctors with purplish adhesive bandages advertising Gardasil, a vaccine against the human papillomavirus. Banished, too, are black T-shirts from Allergan adorned with rhinestones that spell out B-O-T-O-X. So are pens advertising the Sepracor sleep drug Lunesta, in whose barrel floats the brand’s mascot, a somnolent moth.
But some critics said the code did not go far enough to address the influence of drug marketing on the practice of medicine. The guidelines, for example, still permit drug makers to underwrite free lunches for doctors and their staffs or to sponsor dinners for doctors at restaurants, as long as the meals are accompanied by educational presentations.
“Pens or no pens, their influence is not going to be diminished,” said Dr. Larry M. Greenbaum, a rheumatologist in Greenwood, Ind.
IF WE COULD genuinely practice Benedict's brand of hospitality, welcoming each guest to our churches as the visitation of Christ, it might transform our guests as well as us. Instead of making the other into my image, I am invited to see the other as one who is made in God's image and for whom Jesus Christ died.
Dennis Okholm, Monk Habits for Everyday People
[W]E WILL ALWAYS be something of an exile in the present world. As lovely as it may be, it's not our final home, and worshiping God in spirit and truth always leaves us aware that there is more than what meets the eye.
Justin DuVall, from Praying with the Benedictines
Astronomers are fed up. One fifth of the world's population cannot see the Milky Way because street lamps and building lights are too bright. So scientists are mounting a new campaign, called Dark Skies Awareness, aiming to reduce light pollution as part of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.
"Reducing the number of lights on at night could help conserve energy, protect wildlife and benefit human health," astronomer Malcolm Smith of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile wrote in a commentary Wednesday in the journal Nature.