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5 February 2008

Major Conflict of Interest Stirs Controversy in Spine Study

A study of nearly 240 patients seemed to show that Prodisc, an artificial spinal disk, worked much better for lower back pain than conventional vertebrae fusing.

But doctors at roughly half of the research centers involved in the study had more than a medical interest in the outcome. They stood to profit financially if the Prodisc succeeded. It is unclear whether or not the disk’s maker fulfilled its legal obligation to inform the FDA of the researchers’ financial interests before it the study results were used to win approval for Prodisc.

What’s more, in the study results submitted to the FDA, an unusually large number of patients were not included. Some of those patients have said they fared poorly, leading critics of the research to argue that Prodisc was cast in an overly flattering light.

The New York Times has called the way Prodisc was tested and approved “a stark example of conflicts of interest among clinical researchers -- conflicts that are seldom evident to doctors and patients trying to weigh the value of a new device or drug.”


* New York Times January 30, 2008

Larry’s Cardio Health

As a result of his life-saving bypass, Larry King is now very aggressive about heart health through prevention. “Daily, I do about 45 minutes on the treadmill or I walk around Beverly Hills. I follow a heart-healthy diet and I take a lot of vitamins including garlic and fish oil. I read recently that the research on fish oil is terrific; it absolutely works for keeping the heart healthy; I take it every day. I know how effective my vitamin program is by how good I feel. In addition to my own routine, I am watched very closely by three cardiologists… one in New York, one in Washington and one here in LA. Every year I do a complete physical, top to toe including a colonoscopy and everything that a 74-year-old is supposed to do.”

In private, Larry King works tirelessly to spread the message on heart disease and prevention. One of Larry’s main concerns is when he spots friends of his smoking. He’ll pull them aside and start talking to them about smoking, then diet, then exercise.

“There’s no reason that the rate of heart attacks in America should not be cut considerably. This is a disease that is largely preventable.”