R.I.P. Dee Dee Ramone, 50, of an apparent heroin overdose, close on the heels of last year’s cancer death of bandmate Joey Ramone. The Ramones are one of the claims to fame of the town where I grew up, Forest Hills NY.

US Still Waging Disinformation War Against China? Beijing taken in: “Beijing’s most popular newspaper has unwittingly republished a bogus story about U.S. Congress threats to skip town for Memphis or Charlotte unless Washington builds them a new Capitol building with a retractable dome.

The source? America’s celebrated spoof tabloid, the Onion.” Reuters [thanks, Walker] The original Onion story wasn’t funny enough to blink to, but this is…

Dept. of Political Security — Maureen Dowd: “With the most daring reorganization of government in half a century, George W. Bush hopes to protect something he holds dear: himself.” NY Times op-ed

U.S. Lets Drug Tied to Deaths Back on Market. Lotronex, a real advance in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, was withdrawn voluntarily at the FDA’s request after the manufacturer and the FDA could not agree on marketing restrictions to reduce severe side effects and risk of death which became apparent in post-marketing surveillance. “But thousands of patients protested the withdrawal, saying Lotronex was the only treatment to have aided them. Their pleas helped to persuade the agency and manufacturer to find a way to reinstate it. Lotronex will return, the agency said — with restrictions. The new rules leave considerable responsibility with doctors, pharmacists and patients to use it correctly and to watch for early signs of intestinal problems, which can be fatal.” On the one hand, leaving responsibility with physicians and patients subject to informed consent is a reasonable, laudable approach. On the other hand, I worry about leaving responsibility in the hands of physicians and patients. NY Times

Psychiatrists fight blurring of line with psychologists. Psychiatrists (MDs) say it “feels like an insult” when a psychologist (a Ph.D.) is appointed to head the prestigious Yale University Child Study Center, especially after the controversy (to which I’ve blinked) over psychologists winning the right to prescribe psychiatric medications in New Mexico. Simiar legislation is in the pipeline in at least eleven other states. I agree with the thrust of the article, that this is about jockeying for a shrinking pool of money for mental health care. However, it is an oversimplification to state that prescribing is the ‘last bastion’ of psychiatric monopoly, on two counts. First, clinical nurse specialists have been prescribing for some years. Secondly (and this is precisely why the Child Study Center appointment has shaken the profession), while there is no inherent reason why the discipline with the prescription pad should be in charge of academic, bureaucratic or clinical institutions in mental health, psychiatry’s sense of identity depends on having a traditional edge in such intangible products of medical training as authoritativeness and decisiveness as well. Pained comments in this article include two from (psychiatrist) friends of mine. Boston Globe

☯ And here‘s a letter to the editor of the Globe in response to the above article, of particular interest because it is from someone who has trained and practiced as both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. This is exactly the perspective the public needs to disentangle this messy turf war:

“It is frustrating for psychologists to not have access to a prescription pad, but the public’s well-being should not be put at stake in order to mollify that frustration. Psychologists have many other skills they can offer to mental health.

But they are posing very serious health risks to the public by proposing that they, without medical training, should start engaging in the practice of medicine”,

says Dr. John Brenner Levine.