Briefs (right)In Article, Doctors Back Ban
On Gifts From Drug Makers
By Gardiner Harris
THE NEW YORK TIMES
The gifts, drugs and classes that makers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices routinely give doctors undermine medical care, hurt patients and should be banned, a group of influential doctors say in Wednesday’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Medical schools and teaching hospitals should be the first to establish a comprehensive ban, the group writes. But the authors argue that all doctors should eventually follow suit.
Broadly adopted, the recommendations would transform doctors’ day-to-day lives and shut off the focus of drugmakers’ biggest expenditures. But Dr. David Blumenthal, an author of the article, said it was “not very likely” that many in medicine would listen to the group.
“I’m not very optimistic,” said Blumenthal, a professor at Harvard Medical School who, like many of the article’s 10 other authors, has studied conflicts of interest in medicine for years.
Federal law forbids companies from paying doctors to prescribe drugs or devices, but gifts and consulting arrangements are almost entirely unregulated. Voluntary professional guidelines suggest that doctors refuse gifts of greater than “modest” value. Sanctions against doctors who accept gifts of great value are extremely rare.
CBS, Warner to Form New Network
From UPN and WB Programming
By Bill Carter
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Two small television networks became a large one Tuesday when CBS and the Warner Brothers Entertainment unit of Time Warner joined forces to form a new, youth-oriented network out of the programs on UPN and WB.
The new venture, called CW, will take the best shows from UPN and WB, each of which has struggled to turn a profit.
The move underscored the expanding power in the television industry of the CBS chairman, Leslie Moonves, just a few weeks into his tenure atop a stand-alone media company. He will now oversee not only CBS, the most-watched of the broadcast networks, but also an enhanced part-time network aimed at viewers under 35 years old — the audience that CBS reaches least well.
CBS only recently split from the cable half of the Viacom media group and has already found a new partner with a strong connection to younger audiences.
The move comes at a time when networks are experimenting with an array of ways to reach viewers, from DVDs to downloads to computers and iPods, for distribution of their shows — businesses disproportionately used by younger consumers.
Moonves has increasingly emphasized CBS’ role as content provider, saying that no matter how television programs reach homes, the company intends to be a supplier. But the only kind of content that consumers are likely to pay a fee to acquire is hit programs, and several executives on both sides of the new venture said the combination of programming efforts would greatly increase the opportunity to create hits.
Saddam Trial is Postponed
By Robert F. Worth
THE NEW YORK TIMES BAGHDAD
The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants was abruptly postponed Tuesday, the latest twist in a legal process that has been plagued by unruliness and accusations of political influence.
A court official announced several hours after the trial was to resume that several witnesses had failed to appear, news agencies said.
But the Associated Press reported that two of the five judges hearing the case said the postponement was because of disagreements over the choice of a new chief judge.
On Monday, Raouf Rasheed Abdel Rahman, 67, a Kurd, had been named to take over from Rizgar Muhammad Amin, who resigned two weeks ago, saying he was tired of criticism from high-level Iraqi officials who wanted him to be tougher with Hussein.
The appointment of Rahman came as a surprise, because another judge, Said al-Hammash, had been next in line to succeed Amin. But last week an Iraqi official petitioned the tribunal to bar Hammash, saying he was a former member of Saddam’s Baath Party. Hammash has denied it, and the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari directed the tribunal to pay no attention to the petition.
The prospect of a political battle with the de-Baathification commission, which is charged with purging former high-level Baathists from public office and brought the accusation against Hammash, appears to have swayed the tribunal, which moved him to another chamber.
Daimler to Cut 6,000
By Carter Dougherty
THE NEW YORK TIMES FRANKFURT, GERMANY
DaimlerChrysler said on Tuesday that it would eliminate 6,000 white-collar jobs, 20 percent of its administrative work force around the world, taking its cost-cutting drive beyond the factory floor.
The company said it would save $1.8 billion a year after this and other streamlining efforts were completed by the end of 2008. Of the white-collar cuts, 30 percent would come from the management level.
“Over the last several years, we focused on our automotive business and started to streamline the core processes in our divisions,” Dieter Zetsche, the chief executive, said in a statement on Tuesday. “But to safeguard our future in this competitive global industry, we need to apply that same equation across all general and administrative functions.”
While declining to speculate where the cuts would occur, Zetsche said that the pool of employees affected was overwhelmingly in Germany, where the company is based. About 57 percent of the company’s white-collar employees are in Germany, with 25 percent in the United States and Canada, and the rest spread throughout the world, he said.
The move follows Ford Motor’s announcement on Monday that it would eliminate as many as 30,000 jobs over the next six years, and it further hardened Zetsche’s reputation as a cost-cutter.