Duck drug company sales pitches, York professor says in report

Doctors and pharmacists need to learn to say no to free lunches, gifts and bad information peddled by the promoters of new drugs and medical devices, say medical students and advocacy groups, reported the Windsor Star Nov. 7. A report in PLoS Medicine, an online journal published by the Public Library of Science, coauthored by Dr. Joel Lexchin of York’s School of Health Policy & Management, Faculty of Health, notes a recent Canadian survey found drug promotion gets scant attention at medical and pharmacy schools. In most cases, students spent no more than a half day on the issue during their years of training. “In nearly onethird of cases, medical faculties devoted only one to two hours,” says the report. Many doctors insist drug promotion does not influence them. But Lexchin and his colleagues say “there is strong evidence that exposure to pharmaceutical promotion correlates with medically inappropriate and wasteful use of pharmaceuticals.”

$50,000 reward offered for York student’s killers

Shane Morrison is just one of several people who could send his girlfriend’s killers to jail, reported The Toronto Sun Nov. 7. But unlike other potential witnesses in the case, he likely won’t be able to collect a $50,000 reward announced by Toronto police Nov. 6. “I feel absolutely that Mr. Morrison could solve this case,” Toronto police homicide squad StaffInsp. Brian Raybould said yesterday. “I hope there are a number of others who could as well. Those are the people we are hoping to reach today.” Chantel Dunn, 19, died in a hail of bullets meant for Morrison, 22, in February. The York University student likely saved Morrison’s life as he managed to escape with two bullet wounds from the ambush on Clubhouse Drive in North York.

  •  News of the reward offering was also carried in the National Post, The Globe and Mail and on Global TV.

Meet Joe Fresh: Fashion designer Joseph Mimran stages a comeback

For York alumnus and fashion designer Joseph Mimran (BA ‘74) a lot is riding on the success of his new line of cheap chic clothing, wrote Canadian Business Nov. 6. What’s unique about the line, Joe Fresh Style, is where it’s sold: mostly within 10,000squarefoot boutiques – complete with change rooms and trained staff – inside roughly 70 Loblawoperated Real Canadian Superstores across the country. For Mimran, his reputation is at stake. If the brand flops, he could be labelled a designer whose best work may be behind him. If Joe Fresh Style succeeds, Mimran will once again climb to the top of Canada’s clothing retailing heap.

Long before Mimran had a fashion brand bearing his name, he was a kid growing up in a bluecollar Toronto neighbourhood. But despite his humble background, Mimran’s childhood seemed tailormade for someone destined to make it in fashion. For one, Mimran had an almost innate sense for style. Their mother Esther sewed madetomeasure clothing. “She worked from home so much,” Joe says, “I picked up what’s involved in making a garment.”

After high school, Joe completed a bachelor of arts from York University and a bachelor of commerce from the University of Windsor. Although he aspired to work in a creative field, he initially went in the seemingly opposite direction: he crunched numbers as a chartered accountant for Coopers & Lybrand. “The choice was really based on having a business background,” Mimran explains. “The minute I had that, I left the profession.”

He covers the stars

York alumnus David Caplan (BA ’96) is the kind of guy who could get caught watching celebrity sex videos in his office and not get fired, wrote the Toronto Star Nov. 7. It’s part of his job, after all. As the New York City bureau chief for the glossy tabloid Star Magazine, the 32yearold deals in all things celebrity – grainy nightvision videos included. “To really study celebrities and that whole culture as a journalist is really fascinating,” he said over the phone from his trendy East Village apartment, where he lives with his partner Simeon Spier, a computer consultant.

He recalled being backstage with singer Ashlee Simpson and being incredibly intrigued by a snack table full of cheesies, mayonnaise and peanut butter. “That wasn’t just junk food,” he said. “It was weird.” But it didn’t faze him. He said a lot of the glitz and glamour surrounding celebrities are just smoke and mirrors. It’s his job to shine a flashlight through the fog to better see their quirks and find out what makes them tick. “It really is hardcore investigative newsgathering,” he said.

Staying power: strong brands

Major corporate makeovers have little effect on how consumers view the strength of its brand, reported Canadian Business Nov. 6. Even though Calgary’s WestJet Airlines airline paid millions to Air Canada this year after admitting to illegally accessing its rival’s computer network, 19 per cent of people still think it’s one of Canada’s best brands. The WestJet scandal was just background noise for most flyers and didn’t touch on the airline’s promise of friendly and ontime flights, says Alan Middleton, professor of marketing at York’s Schulich School of Business.

Most Air Canada customers, however, still remember the company’s bad service, late flights and other frustrating experiences. “It takes years of neglect or mismanagement to destroy a strong brand, and even longer to rejuvenate a brand that has fallen into disrepair,” says Middleton.  “A strong brand gives a company permission from its customers to both succeed as well as fail,” says Middleton. “But you can’t fail forever. Eventually companies have to deliver on the promise of their brands.”

Medical marijuana is all some have

Re: York gives prof. place to toke up, Nov. 3. Shame on Toronto Star for its attitude on the use of medicinal marijuana, wrote Rick Keep of Lac du Bonnet, Man., in a letter to the Toronto Star Nov. 7. From the headline “…toke up” to the text of the article ” a room to spark up,” your paper treats this issue like a Saturday night frat house party rather than a medical issue. As a person who suffers from MS and one who also relies on marijuana to make it through the day, I am very disappointed with the attitude of the reporter and the editor who allowed the story. Medical marijuana is all that some people have to keep them functioning on even the most basic levels, let alone teaching at York University. Good for York and good luck to the professor.

  • Brian MacLean, criminology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, and Corrie Sakaluk, president of the York Federation of Students, spoke about the move by York to give MacLean a private smoking room for medicinal marijuana, on CTV News Nov. 6.

 Transit lacks leader: Critics

There’s no one driving a citywide transportation agenda, wrote the Toronto Star Nov. 7. That’s according to several transit experts who say they can draw the map, but it’s up to the next mayor to navigate. It’s not just a lack of money hobbling our transit system, say several of the experts who question the city’s transit decisionmaking. Some wonder if the David Millerbacked subway extension to York University is the right path. “Those decisions are being made ad hoc. The (city’s) official plan, which I worked on, talks about intensification and redevelopment around subway stations,” says transit expert Richard Soberman.

 On air

  • Sergei Plekhanov, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and coordinator of the Post-Communist Studies Program at York’s Centre for International & Security Studies, spoke about the history of foreign interference in Afghanistan and Canada’s mission there, on CBC Radio Nov. 6.

  • Thabit Abdullah, history professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the outcome of the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, on TVOntario’s “The Agenda” Nov. 6. Saeed Rahnema, professor in York’s Department of Social Science, Faculty of Arts, and the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, also spoke about the verdict in Hussein’s trial, on OMNI-TV Nov. 6.