Bad Medicine

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 6 2007 5:44 AM

Bad Medicine

The New York Times leads with an investigation  into the use of a highly toxic industrial solvent in counterfeit medicines. The Washington Post leads local on plans to build two new skyscrapers in Rosslyn, Va., and off-leads with a report on the "medical morass" facing injured Iraqi soldiers relegated to civilian hospitals. The Los Angeles Times leads with a report on problems with the regulation of paramedics in California.

In an unsettling report, the New York Times investigates the use of diethylene glycol, a solvent normally used to make antifreeze, in counterfeit medicines. Chinese manufacturers use the toxin as a cheap substitute for more expensive glycerin syrups; the tainted chemicals make their way into cough syrups, fever medications, and injectable drugs and have been linked to thousands of deaths worldwide. The FDA warned U.S. drug makers and suppliers "to be especially vigilant" and asked that they test all glycerin shipments for the toxin.

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The Post reports that although Iraqi soldiers are wounded at about twice the rate of U.S. troops, they are often abandoned to find their own way through Iraq's corrupt and run-down civilian health system. With basic medical supplies hard to come by and little or no financial help available to them, soldiers' families are often forced to sell land or belongings to pay for treatment. A number of new outpatient clinics opened last year, but a full-scale military hospital is still only at the planning stage.

The Los Angeles Times fronts a report on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' lukewarm support for Bush's Iraq strategy. During a recent visit to Iraq, Gates praised Democratic efforts to set a timetable for withdrawal; he appears skeptical of the surge strategy and is reportedly exploring backup options. The New York Times fronts a report on a politically savvy coalition of anti-war activists that is becoming increasingly influential with Democratic lawmakers. In the Post, David Broder writes that unless Bush rethinks the war, the public desire to pull out will see a Democrat gain the White House in 2008.

According to a front-page report in the New York Times, newly released documents show U.S. military officials were concerned that the killing by American troops of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in late 2005 could fuel insurgent propaganda. Investigators said that might have led officials to release "intentionally inaccurate" information blaming the deaths on an insurgent bomb.

The New York Times fronts a report on the rising influence of liberal academics who believe strict gun-control laws may be unconstitutional. The piece quotes skeptics who say the pro-gun liberals are driven by contrarianism rather than intellectual honesty; nonetheless, it's a view that's becoming increasingly widespread among law professors and judges.

The Post fronts, and the New York Times goes inside, with reports on Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson's attempts to woo the GOP faithful. The Post compares the actor-turned-politician-turned-actor to his longtime friend Sen. John McCain, finding little space between the two on policy issues. Inside, the Post reports on Mitt Romney's graduation speech at Pat Robertson's Regent University—a valuable opportunity for the Mormon candidate to win over conservative Christians—while the New York Times picks up on Rudy Giuliani's plans to increase the size of the army if he becomes president.

The Post fronts the appointment of a conservative Northern Virginia priest, who recently left the Episcopal Church after accusing it of being too liberal, as a bishop in the Nigerian Anglican church. The New York Times also picks up the story, which highlights a growing rift between the Episcopal Church's liberal and conservative factions.

Below the fold, the Post looks back at Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui's last year of life, revealing that last summer, Cho's mother sought help for her son at a local church, where the minister believed he needed deliverance from "demonic power."

The New York Times reports on the French presidential race, which conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy appears well-placed to win; the Los Angeles Times looks at the challenges the victor will face. Maureen Dowd casts an eye over Ségolène Royal's flawed campaign (TimesSelect subscription required).