Category Archives: Uncategorized

Shaping the Future of Retail for Consumer Industries

A new report prepared by Accenture, the global professional services company was released at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The report highlights the game-changing technologies which will fundamentally change how retail and consumer brands do business over the next decade and shape new frontiers for physical stores, breakthrough approaches to e-commerce, new capabilities, and implications on society. Accenture paints a rosy picture of the future of retail consumption:

The next decade is expected to be the golden age of the consumer, with shoppers having more choices and control than ever before. They will be presented with a growing array of products and services, often personalized to their specific needs and wants. Consumers will continue to demand price and quality transparency along with a wide range of convenient fulfilment options. Overall, the retail experience is poised to become more inspirational, exciting, simple and convenient, depending on the consumer’s ever-changing needs.

Is Greed Good? Towards Better Capitalism

At a panel at the World Economic Forum, business and other leaders explored whether rising concerns over ownership structures and market forces are causing short-term priorities to gain the upper hand.  They asked how corporate management, boards and investors can align to support long-term value creation.  Panelists included Theresa Whitmarsh, Executive Director, Washington State Investment Board; Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo Inc.;Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, EY; Joseph E. Stiglitz, Professor, School of International and Public Affairs; and  Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. Henry Blodget, Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief, Business Insider Inc., served a moderator. Watch the discussion.

ToxicDocs: secret documents on chemical toxicity available for public health research

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 9.50.54 AM

ToxicDocs is a new resource for journalists, researchers, community groups, unions, and others who investigate the harmful consequences of industries that use toxic substances. The free and open-to-the public site is a searchable repository of twenty million pages of documents, with more to be posted in the future.  The documents have been retrieved from public archives and private communications that have become open to the public in lawsuit “discovery”. Created by two public health historians, Gerald Markowitz of City University of New York and David Rosner of Columbia University and their colleague Merlin Chowkwanyun, the site promises “blazingly fast searches of once-secret industry documents.”

Now in a special issue, the Journal of Public Health Policy, available free and online, presents several commentaries , including one by the site’s founders Rosner, Markowitz and Chowkwanyun , on the history and use of ToxicDocs.  In addition:

Stéphane Horel of LeMonde, who has already used many documents that will be in ToxicDocs.org describes the difference such data make for investigative journalists.

Christer Hogstedt (from Sweden) and David Wegman (US) explore the role that ToxicDocs may play in environmental protection.

Jock McCullogh from South Africa explains the role that previously secret documents can play in protecting gold and asbestos miners.

US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who used these documents when he was Attorney General for Rhode Island writes about ToxicDocs in the public sphere.

Robert Proctor tells the early history, starting with tobacco litigation, and how it has changed our ideas of progress in public health.

Elena Naumova suggests the immense power of large data sets (Big Data), particularly when they are searchable.

and Corporation and Health Watch’s Nicholas Freudenberg argues that ToxicDocs provides a new tool for researchers and advocates, a new approach to teaching public health, and adds to the growing number of resources available to investigate the role of corporations in shaping patterns of health and disease and public health policy.

Say it Ain’t So: Supplement Companies Claim Their Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs Can Help Reduce Opioid-withdrawal Symptoms

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 10.58.27 AM

Credit

In letters to the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, Center for Science in the Public Interest reported that its tests of eight products marketed online as addressing the symptoms of opioid withdrawal showed the as were “riddled with pseudo-scientific jargon and frighteningly ill-informed.”  CSPI urged the FDA to issue immediate warning letters and bring enforcement action that required “cessation of these sales and other such products and allow inspectors to seize products.”  It also asked the two agencies to work together to ensure that these companies will not be able to mislead consumers and profit from bogus claims.

Corporations, Conflicts of Interest and Protecting Public Health

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 4.51.41 PM

Credit

How do the business and political practices of corporations conflict with protecting public health?  In a talk last week sponsored by the Mexican civil society group El Poder del Consumidor, Corporation and Health Watch founder Nicholas Freudenberg described three types of conflicts of interest:  scientific, policy and ideological.  In each of these domains, the private—or business –interests of corporations, maximizing profits, market share and return on investment, conflict with the public interest of preventing harm and reducing health inequities.

Read the talk in English here.  A Spanish language version, Corporaciones compran partidos y miman gobiernos para exprimir a la gente, afirma catedrático, was published in the Mexican online newspaper Sinembargo and is available here.

The Disinformation Playbook

Science helps keep us safe and healthy. The public safeguards that keep our drinking water clean and our children’s toys safe rely on independent science and a transparent policymaking process. And we all rely on scientific information to make informed choices about everything from what we eat to what consumer products we buy for our families.  But the results of independent science don’t always shine a favorable light on corporate products and practices. In response, some corporations manipulate science and scientists to distort the truth about the dangers of their products, using a set of tactics made famous decades ago by the tobacco industry. In a new guide called The Disinformation Playbook, the Union of Concerned Scientists describes five of the most widely used “plays” and some of the many cases where they have been used to block regulations or minimize corporate liability, often with frightening effectiveness—and disastrous repercussions on public health and safety.

Will the mHealth Business Shrink or Exacerbate Health Inequalities?

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 9.54.49 AM

Credit

An article in the November American Journal of Public Health analyzes the social networks of the  major stakeholders in mobile health app development and describes their financial relationships to each other and to global corporations in technology, pharmaceuticals and entertainment, prime investors in the rapidly expanding mHealth business.  The authors conclude that public health researchers need to “extend their scrutiny and advocacy beyond the health messages contained within apps to understanding commercial influences on health and, when necessary, challenging them.”  In an accompanying editorial, CHW’s Nicholas Freudenberg notes that in their effort to maintain profitability in a crowded marketplace, corporations selling the 259,000 mHealth apps now on the U.S.  market   may make misleading claims, cover up defects or market unscrupulously, thus harming rather than helping users. Those mHealth apps that are effective and safe risk widening inequalities in health by being more accessible to the users who can afford them.