Health reform activist eyes problems in health care

Sidney Wolfe, M.D., co-founder and director of the D.C.-based Public Citizen Health Research Group, will discuss problems with the health care system and pharmaceutical industry at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in Spokane. Dr. Wolfe#s presentation is this year#s Allen I. White Lectureship, presented by the Washington State University College of Pharmacy#s Department of Health Policy and Administration at WSU Spokane.

The lecture is free and open to the public. To ensure seating, attendees should contact Elaine Vincent, (509) 335-8665,, by Oct. 11. The lecture will take place at the WSU College of Nursing and will be telecast live via WHETS WSU#s Pullman campus, WSU Tri-Cities, WSU Vancouver, Yakima Valley Community College, and Pierce College in Puyallup. For details see

Wolfe is the director of Public Citizen Health Research Group and an adjunct professor of internal medicine at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree. He met Ralph Nader in Washington, D.C., at a meeting of the American Patients Association. He began advising Nader on health problems and helped in the recruitment of medical student volunteers who worked for Nader. Wolfe then set up Health Research Group in November 1971. He is currently a member of both the American Federation for Clinical Research and the Society for General Internal Medicine. His awards include receiving the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1990.

Activities of the health research group have led to:

* the banning of the drugs phenformin, Oraflex, Tandearil, and Suprofen;

* the requirement that aspirin products have a label that warns that children and teenagers may develop Reye#s Syndrome by using aspirin in treatment of the symptoms of colds and flu;

* the researching and banning of dangerous medical devices such as the defective Bjork-Shiley, 60-degree Convexo-Concave artificial heart valve;

* forcing a smokeless tobacco warning on labels and in advertisements; and studies of medical malpractice and doctor discipline. Major HRG publications include “Pills That Don#t Work, Over the Counter Pills That Don#t Work, and Worst Pills/Best Pills,” among others.

The Allen I. White Lecture was established by College of Pharmacy professors Charles Martin and Vishnu Bhatia as a tribute to Dean Allen I. White upon his retirement in 1979, and has been supported by significant gifts from a number of donors including Allen and Edith White. As dean, White felt it was important to give pharmacy students greater exposure to health care training and issues. This was the rationale behind both the clinical training program in Spokane, and the Allen I. White Lectureship, which brings experts in health care to WSU to discuss healthcare topics with faculty and students. The first group of eight WSU pharmacy students who came to Spokane for clinical training in the spring of 1970 were brought to the city under his leadership.

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