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Fifteen from Tampa Bay area among those who spoke on Merck's behalf

Health line

15 LOCALS among those who spoke on Merck's behalf

In a burst of transparency — and ahead of federal legislation requiring such disclosure — Merck has become the second drugmaker to disclose payments to doctors and other health professionals who speak on its behalf. Its Web site (merck.com/speakerpayments — click on "Payments made in 3rd quarter") shows that 15 providers from the Tampa Bay area were among 1,078 nationwide who spoke on Merck's behalf from July through September. The biggest local earner was Anna Guiliano, a USF professor and researcher at Moffitt Cancer Center who was paid $11,475 for five talks on HPV. Merck makes the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. Eli Lilly & Co. also reports quarterly on its payments to physicians (lillyfaculty registry.com). A mandate that all drug companies disclose such payments is included in health reform legislation under consideration by Congress.

Kris Hundley, Times staff

'Loser' who regained weight: I was shunned

Fans of NBC's The Biggest Loser who wonder why first season winner Ryan C. Benson missed Wednesday's reunion show, wonder no more. Benson, who lost 122 of his 330-pound starting weight, is back above 300 pounds but thinks he was shunned by the show because he publicly admitted that he dropped some of the weight by fasting and dehydrating himself to the point that he was urinating blood. His case confirms criticisms by medical professionals who say the show, on which some contestants drop as much as 15 pounds a week, encourages unhealthy diet and exercise practices. More than 200,000 people a year apply to get on the program, one of NBC's most popular.

New York Times

Vinegar could help blood sugar levels

Vinegar could be a way to reduce the impact of a carb-laden dish on blood sugar, apparently because vinegar helps block digestive enzymes that convert carbohydrates into sugar. An Italian study showed that when healthy subjects consumed about 4 teaspoons of white vinegar as a salad dressing with a meal that included 2 ounces of white bread, there was a 30 percent reduction in their rise in blood sugar than seen with a comparable meal without vinegar. In 2004, a study published in Diabetes Care found similar effects in people with diabetes. Nothing replaces increased physical activity and portion control in fighting diabetes, said Sue McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the American Diabetes Association. But people with diabetes might try two similar meals — one with vinegar, and another without — and compare the effect of each meal on their on blood sugar levels.

New York Times

Fifteen from Tampa Bay area among those who spoke on Merck's behalf 11/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 4:36pm]
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