Martha Rosenberg is a former advertising copywriter who knows a lot about marketing. She began as an investigative journalist and since has been on TV and radio as a health expert. Martha has taught about drug marketing tactics at a Chicago medical school and is part of the FDA press corps. Her book "Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks, and Hacks Pimp the Public Health," exposes what goes on behind the scenes in the food and drug industries.
Latest by Martha Rosenberg
By Martha Rosenberg | June 26, 2014
It is happening more and more. T.S.A. screeners at the airport, in addition to finding hidden bottles of shampoo, are finding guns that passengers “forgot.” It is “a vivid indication of the normalization of casual gun-ownership,” said the New York Times this week. “Airports in states with lax gun laws tend to have the highest incidence of firearms at checkpoints.”
Last year, a Littlestown man on his way to Music City USA was found to have a loaded gun in his carry-on bag at the Baltimore–Washington International Airport. The wife of rock musician and NRA board member Ted (“Obama is a subhuman mongrel”) Nugent was caught with a gun in her carry-on luggage at the Dallas airport. At …
By Martha Rosenberg | June 12, 2014
It has been a decade since Merck’s “super-aspirin” Vioxx was withdrawn from the market after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Heavily advertised by celebrity athletes like Dorothy Hamill and Bruce Jenner and used by approximately 20 million patients, estimates of the heart attacks caused by Vioxx range from 27,000 to up to 140,000. The Vioxx scandal made Merck the poster child for deceptive marketing because the cardiovascular risk data was deliberately withheld from the FDA, medical journals and the drug-taking public and their doctors according to news reports. In 2010, Merck compensated 20,591 heart attack and 12,447 stroke plaintiffs out of a $4.85 billion settlement fund.
Now, in an improbable …
By Martha Rosenberg | June 10, 2014
Like the Taliban, the absolutist NRA annihilates moderates. Who can forget how outdoors personality Jim Zumbo was stripped of his Outdoor Channel show and editorship with Outdoor Life in 2007 for suggesting that AR and AK rifles have “no place … among our hunting fraternity,” especially for shooting prairie dogs, and calling them “terrorists rifles”?
Promptly labeled a “turncoat” who has “put a stake in our hearts,” Zumbo issued an unctuous recantation. “I’ll do all I can to educate others who are, or were, as ignorant as I was about ‘black’ rifles and the controversy that surrounds them,” he vowed. “My promise to you is that I’ll learn all I can about these firearms, and by the time …
By Martha Rosenberg | June 5, 2014
After an interminable winter, it is sunny and 86 degrees in Chicago. Tank tops and shorts are the couture of the day in Millennium Park, in the heart of downtown–except for some young women visiting from Asia. They are also in summer clothes but they are shading themselves with umbrellas, like the parasols once common in the US.
Before the 1920′s, a suntan in the US was not a status symbol. The US was still an agrarian society and a suntan meant you toiled in the fields on the country’s many family farms. To appear refined or upper class, women sought a fair-skinned look, untouched by the sun, and wore full-length sleeves, long skirts and sunbonnets …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 21, 2014
While there are more guns in the US than there were thirty years ago, less households actually have guns. According to UPI, over half of US households in 1977 had guns; now less than a third have guns. The reason for the steep decline, says UPI, is “aging of the current-gun owning population, a lack of interest in guns by youth, the end of military conscription, the decreasing popularity of hunting; land-use issues that limit hunting and shooting and the increase in single-parent homes headed by women.”
Needless to say, gun sales are increasingly to households that already have guns, reflecting the sales pitches after the election of President Obama and the Sandy Hook massacre that new guns laws, …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 15, 2014
Does anyone remember the Camel Filters Man? A Mark Spitz lookalike, he was always climbing mountains in Nepal or panning for gold with a Farrah Fawcett lookalike, or several, by his side. He carried rope and a Swiss Army knife not a messenger bag. He did not seem to hold a day job.
If you told the Camel Filters Man that one day American men would be pushing strollers, hearing “erectile dysfunction” on TV or carrying “purses” called messenger bags, he’d think you were smoking something. If you told him gay marriage would be legal, shaved heads would be cool and men would ride “step through” Divvy bicycles (nee “girl’s bikes) he’d expect you to talk about …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 7, 2014
It has been over ten years since Wisconsin endured a kind of deer holocaust. The terminal deer and elk disease, chronic wasting disease (CWD), descended upon its deer population with such vengeance officials declared “CWD eradication” zones in which fauns and does would be killed before bucks. Thousands of deer carcasses were stored in refrigerated trucks in La Crosse while their severed heads were tested for CWD. If the carcasses were disease-free they were safe to eat (any takers?); if not, they were too dangerous to even put in a landfill. Why? Because “prions” (which also cause mad cow disease, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans) are not inactivated by cooking, heat, autoclaves, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 3, 2014
It is no secret that our bodies and environment are swimming in estrogen. Puberty is occurring as early as eight-years-old in children and recently babies in China developed breasts. Frogs and fish are becoming “intersex” and losing their male characteristics from excreted estrogens in the environment and waterways. In England, the Daily Mail ran a feature on the phenomenon of women’s bra cup sizes increasing independent of their weights, likely because of environmental and livestock chemicals. The website Green Prophet, speculated that women in the Middle East are not yet experiencing cup inflation because their environments have not become similarly estrogenized.
The issue of feminized women, men and wildlife should be a wake-up call. Estrogen is blamed for …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 1, 2014
The JOBS Act is a “game changer” that would allow “ordinary Americans…to go online and invest in entrepreneurs they believe in,” says President Obama.
Do you know what PIPRs (private issuers publicly raising) are? Do you know what the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 or JOBS Act is? If not, you are like many people who are legally and culturally cut off from Wall Street which tends to be a bastion of the wealthy.
Until the JOBS Act, passed by the Obama administration in 2012, if you had a business, you could not advertise its stock unless you were registered with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities agencies. While this restriction, …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 27, 2014
It has been 24 years since an inflammatory art exhibit vaulted the city of Cincinnati and its Contemporary Arts Center to national attention. A photo installation by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, condemned by the late North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, forced what was believed to be the first criminal trial of an art museum, especially one centered on obscenity. If convicted, the museum faced up to $10,000 in fines and its director, Dennis Barrie, up to a year in jail. The Center was acquitted. Thanks to the face-off between Mapplethorpe and Helms and shocking photos, the trial put discussion of what is “art” and what is “obscenity” on the nation’s front burner.
Flash forward to this spring when a …
A Dean of a Medical School on a Drug Company Board? Interview About High-Level Conflicts of Interest with Walid Gellad, MDBy Martha Rosenberg | April 17, 2014
Walid Gellad, MD, MPH is both assistant professor of medicine and assistant professor of health policy at the University of Pittsburgh and a physician in the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Pittsburgh Healthcare System. He is coauthor of a recent research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) [Academic Medical Center Leadership on Pharmaceutical Company Boards of Directors, also by Timothy Anderson, MD, Chester Good, MD, MPH and Shravan Dave, BS] that reveals almost all US large drug companies and 40 percent of all drug companies studied have leaders in academic medical centers on their boards. These drug company board members include deans, chief executive officers, department chairs, trustees at academic medical centers, school of …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 13, 2014
Was your “ex” violent and possessive? Did he drink too much? Was he emotional, unpredictable and prone to rages and anger management problems? When you tried to end the relationship did he threaten or stalk you? If you tried to date someone else did he intervene? Did you have to notify the authorities?
It is no coincidence that violent “exes” are so alike. There is a definite “domestic batterer” personality. The dark behavior begins with possessiveness and extreme suspicion and graduates into violence including violence against their partners’ pets. Many domestic batterers say “you’re never leaving me alive” and, despite orders of protection, their chilling prediction often comes through. No wonder one woman we know in …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 8, 2014
As a Yankee I fell in love with the City that Care Forgot (aka the Crescent City, the Big Easy and the Birthplace of Jazz) in my twenties and, like many a Yankee before me, moved there. (It was also called the Land of the Lotus Eaters because we forgot where we came from.) Like many a Yankee before me, I learned that a bald egg is a boiled egg oysters are ersters, oil is erl and the plural of yall is yall’s (not your). Who knew?
With apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, New Orleanians are different from you and me if you and me are Yankees. Difference Number One is–they socialize! They …
By Martha Rosenberg | March 14, 2014
No one would defend soft drinks as healthful or good for you. But recent research about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and artificial sweeteners suggest soft drinks may be even worse for us than we thought. Especially because soft drinks likely contain either HFCS or sugar substitutes. The truth is soft drinks may do a lot more good for the big beverage companies that make them than the people who drink them.
High Fructose Corn Syrup and GMO Corn
Can anyone remember life before high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was in almost every “sweet” food? The consumption of high fructose corn syrup has grown 1,000 percent since its introduction in soft drinks in 1984. Food producers much prefer …
Interview with Author of Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within Gayathri RamprasadBy Martha Rosenberg | March 7, 2014
The just published memoir, Shadows in the Sun, is a first-of-its-kind, cross-cultural lens to mental illness through the inspiring story of the author’s thirty-year battle with depression.
Rosenberg: Your book gives vivid images and details of your childhood, growing up in India. It seems like you were never alone, between your immediate family, your extended family and, later, your in-laws. Yet, psychologically you were totally alone.
Ramprasad: India is collectivistic culture and the Indian family can either be a fortress or a prison. When the “enemy” is mental illness, it is often a prison. Not because of a lack of love. But, because of a lack of understanding. As a culture, there are many myths and misperceptions …
By Martha Rosenberg | March 2, 2014
Two years ago, the nation’s collective stomach churned when people learned they were eating a meat product called “pink slime.” Lean finely textured beef as the industry wanted called it was meat scraps that were once earmarked for pet food repurposed for the human dinner table, especially the National School Lunch Program. While the product looked like human intestines, what caused the national revulsion was that it was treated with puffs of ammonia to kill the bacterium E. coli. Yum.
Soon after the hoopla began, the main supplier of pink slime, Beef Products, Inc., announced it was closing its production facilities. But since then, other products the public did not know it was consuming or want to consume have …
Reduce the Use of Expensive, Dangerous Drugs Paid For By Taxpayers? Don’t You Dare Say Patient Front Groups!By Martha Rosenberg | February 23, 2014
The Obama administration is finally addressing the expensive, dangerous and usually unnecessary psychiatric drugs that are footed by taxpayers in federal entitlement programs. It has proposed that insurers may limit Medicare coverage of certain classes of drugs that include Wellbutrin, Paxil and Prozac for depression and Abilify and Seroquel for schizophrenia.
How expensive are these drugs? 100 middle dose pills of the widely marketed Abilify cost as much as $1,644. 100 pills of Geodon are $958, Invega, $1,789, Risperdal, $953, Seroquel, $2,000 and Zyprexa, $1,680, if the brand name drugs are used, which drug company lobbyists hope. Thanks to their lobbying, insurers have to pay “all or substantially all” of such depression and schizophrenia drug costs because the drugs enjoy …
By Martha Rosenberg | February 17, 2014
There is a reason hospital burn units have the highest turnover of nurses. There is a reason the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City and the 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh live on in the world’s consciousness. There is a reason hell is depicted as eternal fire. Perishing from a fire is an unfathomable death.
Yet millions of farm animals a year die in just this way–in preventable fires enabled by industrial scale, “factory” farming. Recent burn victims include 7,000 turkeys at a Butterball operation in North Carolina, 250,000 chickens at an Ohio Fresh Eggs, a Costco supplier and 500,000 chickens at Moark Hatcheries, a Walmart supplier in Colorado. These heartbreaking fires are underreported and news …
By Martha Rosenberg | February 4, 2014
A recent poll revealed that while women plan their holiday gifts in advance, men often buy them at the gas station on the way to a family gathering. So it is no wonder that men’s Valentine’s Day gifts are often as inappropriate as their Christmas and birthday gifts. Here are some mistakes men repeatedly make on Valentine’s Day which you should avoid.
1) Size insults. Buying an article of clothing that is too small for your wife to wear is obviously a mood destroyer. But so is buying something that is too big. (“You thought I was THAT size.”) Even slippers can be an insult since women’s feet are not as big as men’s (and they are NOT …
By Martha Rosenberg | January 26, 2014
It’s a crime to jolt the most jaded Chicago TV News watchers. Last week, a 14-year-old girl in a Chicago suburb allegedly stabbed her 11-year-old half sister 40 times, killing her. News reports say the 14-year-old was angry over an argument the night before, set her alarm, got a kitchen knife and entered her sister’s room. The suspect allegedly uttered that the younger girl was not thankful for what she had done with each stab wound, said police. The older sister’s unappreciated services included cooking dinner, doing the 11-year-old’s chores for her and keeping the household running, said news reports.
The stabbing comes a little over a year after another shocking Chicago area stabbing. Elzbieta Plackowska in …