Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Healthy Debate

The blogger BL Ochman last week applauded USA Today 's Elizabeth Weise’s report on how bloggers drove the momentum behind the recent pet food/melamine recall. The mainstream media (MSM) hadn’t seized the story, said Ochman, though 56% of U.S. households own pets.

The Pet Connection blog was one of the heroes; it live-blogged and ran transcripts of the FDA press conference on the recall – reports that didn’t get to MSM websites or print outlets. The five Pet Connection bloggers - Dr. Marty Becker, Gina Spadafori, Christie Keith and Susan and Dr. Rolan - clearly applied standards of good reporting and also created an online database where pet owners could log the symptoms of their pets, treatment and outcomes.

Perhaps the MSM didn’t feel the urgency of the pet food story right away, but as someone who adopted a dog from rescue at the time the story finally erupted, I am thankful that the story came to light, so I could keep Oliver well-fed … with product deemed safe.

How cute is Oliver?

Speaking of health, David Carr, the media reporter for The New York Times, complained in a rather blog-like print column today that he found “everything, except insight” among bloggers and digital news sources on the questions raised about Avandia, a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes. A published study by Dr. Steven Nissen, a noted cardiologist who also blew the whistle on Vioxx, found that an analysis of previous studies revealed Avandia actually increased heart attack risk by 43% and called its use “a virtual public health emergency.”

Carr, who noted he uses Avandia himself, said that the polarized online discourse on the matter was confusing to him. “When it comes to meta-analysis on breaking issues, the Web seems better suited to Paris Hilton than patient safety,” he wrote. He elected to confer with his doctor before deciding whether to continue taking it.

We wish him well.

pet food recall, BL Ochman, Pet Connection, Avandia, MSM, patient safety