Last month, Health news watchdog HealthNewsReview broke the news of the highly controversial “premium Fifth Quarter Fresh chocolate milk for concussion recovery” study-that-isn’t-really-a-study out of the University of Maryland.
Today, they have posted an update that is worth a read.
- “For University of Maryland (UMD) public relations officials who’ve been buried beneath an avalanche of criticism of late, a story in Sunday’s Washington Post would appear to signal an intent to start digging out.”
- “But as is often the case in these situations, the apparent good news of this release of information in fact only reinforces how poorly UMD has managed this case. Dr. Patrick O’Shea, vice president of research at Maryland, told the Post, “ . . . I value the information we give to the public.” Adding, “We have the public interest at heart . . . The public should be able to rely on what we say.” In reality, what O’Shea has mainly been doing is dodging reporters’ expected questions and redirecting them to Crystal Brown, UMD’s chief communications officer, who has simply refused to give other reporters information which O’Shea ultimately gave to the Post.”
- “We at Health News Review had contacted O’Shea soon after we reviewed the University’s news release about the study. Andrew Holtz, one of the release’s initial reviewers, emailed O’Shea in late January and was referred to Brown who told him a “review” would be conducted but offered little more. Holtz blogged about his difficulty in gaining information here for Health News Review. I had contacted O’Shea about the same time, having dealt with similar cases at other universities, and posed similar questions. O’Shea emailed his phone numbers, asking me to call, and then reneged on his invitation when he was reminded I was asking as a reporter, not offering to consult.”
- “The list of questions that the university should be answering goes on quite a bit longer. What’s actually the timetable for the investigation (“quickly” doesn’t cut it)? Will the results of the review be made public? Why hasn’t the news release that sparked this fiasco been updated with a disclaimer on sites such as PR Newswire?”
- “The university’s silence on these questions has been deafening. In fact, three hours after the Washington Post published its latest piece on the controversy – including comments from O’Shea and others — Brown wrote me saying, “I don’t have any updates on this matter and will not have any details until the committee has completed their review. That process is underway.”
- “Information on health and medical research differs from other messages sent from research universities. It is integrally linked to the lives and welfare of the public. It’s not a marketing tool to be used to the advantage of an institution.”