Toronto doctors say no to free samples from drug firms

Dr. Nav Persaud took the unusual step on Monday evening of emptying a cabinet full of drugs into two garbage bags, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 26. The drugs in question were free samples that pharmaceutical reps had given to a family practice clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital for distribution to patients. . . . Joel Lexchin, a health policy professor at York University, said sampling can be problematic because not as much is known about the safety profile of newer drugs. As well, Lexchin argued about 90 per cent of new drugs do not offer any significant therapeutic advantage over drugs that are already on the market, but tend to be more expensive. Read full story.

Too much focus on the past
CBC’s Matt Galloway spoke with York University Professor Susan Dion on “Metro Morning” Oct. 25 about aboriginal education. Listen to full interview.

Leaving a mark: How ash tattoos help the living remember the dead
Trish Rodgers filled a small bottle cap with her dead aunt’s ashes and emptied it into a vial of black ink. In her apartment, the tattoo artist used the combination of human remains and tattoo pigment to draw the outline of a rose into her cousin’s shoulder. At that point, this was a practice that only tattoo artists used amongst themselves, Rodgers says. But since that evening in 2008, it has garnered attention of sociologists across the world and Canadian tattoo parlours are seeing requests for the procedure grow, reported the National Post Oct. 25. York University sociologist Deborah Davidson says the practice is an extreme example of a trend among bereaved Canadians. The professor is currently amassing a database of hundreds of memorial tattoos commemorating the dead – though without the ones with actual remains in the ink. Read full story.

Politicians now confess . . . everything: Toronto councillor alerts media to traffic ticket
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam strode into the city hall press gallery Friday to make a rather benign confession: She was issued a ticket this week for an unsafe left turn that injured no one and dented nothing. . . . York University political scientist Robert Drummond said the pre-emptive approach is unusual, but can work to a councillor’s advantage. “It’s better safe than sorry, in a sense,” said Drummond in the National Post Oct. 25. “By coming clean, they’re not in any danger of somebody saying, ‘You were trying to keep this hidden or trying to get away with something.’” Read full story.

York Region tackles youth homelessness
At a research forum in Markham on Friday, community workers, educators and York Region representatives gathered to discuss next steps in addressing youth homelessness, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 25. According to Stephen Gaetz, a York University professor and director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, “a lack of acknowledgement that there is a problem” has been a significant barrier to creating effective interventions. “In York Region, there are excellent emergency services, but the solution to youth homelessness is not emergency services,” Gaetz, who was among the speakers, said in an interview. “We have to think about prevention and getting people the housing that they need.” Read full story.

Interpreting offers a world of opportunity
Educational institutions such as York University’s Glendon College are working to expand programs beyond English and French translation, said Andrew Clifford, director, Master of Conference Interpreting, in Toronto. Glendon now offers programs for seven languages. “You would think that with all the languages represented on Canadian soil, there would be more offerings in other languages,” he said in the Leader-Post Oct. 26. “Unfortunately that’s not the case.” Read full story.