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
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 …
By Martha Rosenberg | January 18, 2014
Have you ever noticed how warnings about dangerous prescription drug always seem to surface after the drug is no longer marketed and its patent has run out? As in after the fact? Whether it’s an FDA advisory or a trial lawyer solicitation about harm that may have been done to you, the warnings are always belated and useless. If a drug people took four years ago may have given them liver damage, why didn’t the FDA tell them then? Why didn’t the FDA recall the drug or better yet, not approve it in the first place?
Of course, the official answer from the FDA and Big Pharma is that problems with a drug are only seen when millions …
By Martha Rosenberg | January 15, 2014
It is unlikely that Curtis Reeves, the retired police officer accused of killing Chad Oulson and wounding his wife, Nicole, this week at a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida will use a “Stand Your Ground” defense. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a victim.
Reeves told police he feared the man was going to attack him, says CNN. The dead man was the “aggressor” and Reeves was in fear of his life agreed Reeves’ lawyer, Richard Escobar during Reeve’s first court appearance this week. Oulson reportedly threw popcorn at Reeves.
Like most previously “law-abiding” citizens who become Angry While Armed (AWA) Reeves was a great guy–until he wasn’t. “He’s just not that kind of person,” …
By Martha Rosenberg | January 9, 2014
Imagine a treatment for drug addiction and alcoholism that uses no drugs, requires no trained personnel, resources or insurance and makes no money for anyone. This “people’s program” is the anonymous 12-Step groups which have quietly saved millions for 79 years.
But lately, Big Pharma sees potential in all that free healing. Increasingly, it is “partnering” with rehab facilities to monetize addiction recovery, especially by facilitating dual diagnoses that require expensive pills. A patient is no longer just an alcoholic, he is an alcoholic with bipolar disease or major depressive disorder. Ka-ching.
It’s easy to see why Pharma wants a new revenue stream. Its blockbusters like Lipitor, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singulair and Concerta have gone off patent and Medicare …
By Martha Rosenberg | January 4, 2014
It’s been exactly a year since gun lover and business manager of the popular YouTube show FPSRussia Keith Ratliff was found dead in Carnesville, Georgia of a single bullet wound in the head. Ratliff was reportedly surrounded by several guns, but not the gun that killed him. Ratliff’s show which featured his friend Kyle Myers showing off the fire power of weapons and triggering explosions while faking a Russian accent, were viewed millions of times.
Two months after the death the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it was pursuing leads but by September had not reported an arrest or suspect. How could someone surrounded by guns be murdered, if in fact Ratliff was murdered? “For him not to …
By Martha Rosenberg | December 23, 2013
Thanks to the cost of gas, parking, insurance and repairs, more people are discovering the life of the strap hanger. If their city has a metro and they still have a job, that is. But after the thrill of gliding past a sea of brake lights to arrive at work on time passes, the universal rules of train ridership kick in.
Catching the train — or Trying To
When a train is approaching and you need to add money to your fare card to catch it, people who’ve never used the fare card machines will materialize. Behind them are people with bags of nickels.
If the train is approaching and the fare card machines have no line, …
By Martha Rosenberg | December 21, 2013
Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 and its first use in the 1930s and 1940s, antibiotics have been life-saving wonder drugs. Before the discovery of antibiotics, half of all babies who died after birth succumbed to Strep (Streptococcus pyogenes) and 80 percent of Staph (Staphylococcus aureus) infected wounds were fatal.
But in some senses, we have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. We have overused antibiotics to the point where many don’t work anymore. For decades, humans have taken antibiotics when they aren’t necessary for colds and viral infections, which are not bacterial and therefore not touched by antibiotics. For decades, livestock operators have given antibiotics to their animals to make them grow faster …
By Martha Rosenberg | June 12, 2013
An interview with Mark Pendergrast, author of For God, Country & Coca-Cola
MR: Your newly expanded book, For God, Country & Coca-Cola, certainly tells the complete history of Coca-Cola for Coke buffs and enthusiasts, collectors and food historians. But it also offers a view of social, political and marketing history in the US which is fascinating.
MP: By restricting the history to Coca-Cola–looking at history through a green Coke bottle, so to speak–I could look at a wide array of subjects. The book has appealed to people who are interested in popular culture, marketing history, imperialism, equity, the impact of war, public health, globalization, corporate social responsibility, and more.
MR: No one alive today remembers the era …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 27, 2013
Based on the Center for American Progress Report: Blindfolded, and with One Hand Tied Behind the Back
Fourth in the Multi-part The NRA: A Criminal’s Best Friend Series.
The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) sanctimonious marketing position is: Criminals don’t follow laws and they are armed. We good guys need to be armed because the bad guys are!
However, A closer look at the laws that the NRA supports shows that sales to criminals are a big part of gun dealers’ booty. Yes, the NRA literally makes money for manufacturers by enabling guns sales to criminals. Then it makes more money from saying criminals have guns so everyone else should too.
The NRA may talk about patriotism and constitutional rights but …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 7, 2013
An interview with Omar Manejwala, MD, Author of Craving: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough
Dr. Manejwala, a psychiatrist, is the senior vice president and chief medical officer of Catasys in Los Angeles and is the former medical director at Hazelden Foundation. He is a leading expert in addiction medicine and a public speaker who addresses the topic of addiction and compulsive behaviors.
Rosenberg: Your book draws close parallels between cravings of an alcoholic or drug addict, which can be life-threatening, and cravings for food or exercise or sex in so-called normal people. You say both originate from similar parts of the brain and both can destroy lives.
Manejwala: Process addictions, addictions to behaviors, can wreak as much havoc …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 1, 2013
The meat and seafood you buy probably looks and smells fine. But processors may be using unsavory drugs to retard bacterial growth and the drugs do not appear on the label.
Many human antibiotics are used in meat production like penicillin, neomycin and sulfa and Cipro-like drugs. The FDA and medical community are trying to clamp down on the massive use of such drugs on large scale farms because they contribute to resistance of the very the germs they are supposed to kill.
Livestock operators fight antibiotic restrictions suggested by the FDA, doctors and scientific groups because the pills save them money. Without antibiotics, animals would need to be given more room–the packed conditions they live in on many farms …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 15, 2013
Selling milk looks easy and even fun when you see the “Got Milk?” celebrity mustache ads. In fact, it is neither. Despite almost 20 years of mustache ads, milk sales continue to fall at a fast clip. Why? According to the milk groups responsible for the marketing, the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program, calcium-fortiﬁed juices and vitamin-enhanced beverages have supplanted milk’s healthy image and the public’s preference for milk itself may be changing.
Many demographic groups shun milk from teenagers and young adults who prefer almost anything else to dieters, athletes and health-food eaters who reject the cholesterol, fat, calories and allergens. Several ethnic groups also avoid milk, as do the …
By Martha Rosenberg | March 26, 2013
Despite its reputation for global consciousness and socially aware customers, Starbucks is actually a huge ally of the NRA by welcoming lethal weapons in its stores. By refusing to ban guns from its premises as it is allowed to as a property owner, Starbucks facilitates gun proliferation and the gun lobby’s stated goal of universal armament of citizens at all times in all venues.
While forward-thinking corporations like California Pizza Kitchen, Peet’s, IKEA and Disney banned guns from their premises when presented with a petition from the Brady Campaign with 33,000 signatures over a year ago, Starbucks refused. Among the guns Starbucks openly welcomes into its coffee shops are the FN Herstal 57 (which enabled the Fort Hood shooter to …
By Martha Rosenberg | December 27, 2012
It is no secret that prescription drugs, notably antidepressants, can make psychiatric patients worse, not better, and even precipitate violence.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil are so linked to violence that they were given the FDA’s highest warning, a black box, in 2004 for the suicidal risks they can create in young adults.
According to published reports, the gunmen involved in the mass shootings at Columbine High School, Red Lake reservation, Northern Illinois University, and Virginia Tech were under the influence of psychiatric drugs or withdrawing from such drugs.
About 5,000 news stories link psychiatric drugs to violent crime, including school shootings, according to the website SSRI Stories, where the stories can be read …