Extra Extra : December 2007

Designed to treat addicts, 'bupe fix' gains popularity on streets

A three-part investigative series by The Baltimore Sun looks at the drug buprenorphine which is now being commonly prescribed to addicts to help them kick their addictions. It has shown great promise with opiate addictions by curbing withdrawal symptoms. But in plentiful supply, it is now showing up on the streets where abusers are using it to get high.

Alleged doping aligns with boosts in stats, paychecks

Ben Poston, Derrick Nunnally and Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel built a database of every player named in the Mitchell Report. The reporters analyzed statistical performance before and after the players allegedly began taking drugs and found that more than half the 90 players named in the report showed an improvement in performance within two years. The reporters also looked at the financial rewards for a smaller group of star players by comparing salaries in the year the doping began to the next contract signed.

Cheating rampant on Army exams

Bryan Bender and Kevin Baron of The Boston Globe spent five-months investigating the Army's testing program "which verifies that soldiers have learned certain military skills and helps them amass promotion points." Cheating had been suspected since 1999, but the Army did not acknowledge the problem until June 2007. The Globe's investigation learned that the Army dismissed recommendations for increasing test security in 2001 while increasing the number of exams they offered online. Bender and Baron found that hundreds of thousands of completed exam packages had been downloaded over the years.

Rural business loans lead to huge losses for USDA

Gilbert Gaul continued with The Washington Post's investigation of the USDA's farm subsidy loan program and found many shortcomings. Small companies that go out of business often default on their loans; since the 1970s, the loan program has seen nearly $1.5 billion in losses. Gaul used individual examples of USDA loans to illustrate broader problems within the program, such as financing jobs that have gone to illegal immigrants, "saving" jobs that would not be lost anyway, and lending money to businesses and people with bad credit who are likely to default on the loan.

College bowl system lines pockets

Brent Schrotenboer of The San Diego Union-Tribune dissected the college football bowl system to reveal the lucrative financial structure that helps explain the system's staying power. The investigation checked IRS records for 19 current bowl games to find that net assets grew by 85 percent from 2001-2005, up from $3.4 million to $6.3 million The article also disclosed the compensation packages of bowl executives.

Mood-altering drugs prescribed frequently to foster kids

Gary Craig from the Rochester, N.Y., Democrat and Chronicle investigated the growing use of mood-altering prescription drugs among youth in foster care and uncovered cases of children as young as one year old being prescribed psychotropic drugs. The investigation revealed many trends in the prescribing of these drugs, and disturbing statistics about their prevalence in the foster care system.

Insiders profit from FDA's Fast Track

A seven-month investigation by The Plain Dealer's Joel Rutchick and Brie Zeltner into the FDA's Fast Track drug review program has proven benefits to investors while doing little or nothing to speed up the availability of new medical treatments, compared to expedited review options that already existed before the drug industry lobbied to create Fast Track."Fast The news of Fast Track designation creates a boon for day traders, hedge funds and others looking to make quick money off biotech stocks." Securities information shows that stocks surge at the announcement of Fast Track designations, resulting in hefty profits ... Read more ...

Lives saved but valuables lost at Denver Health

An investigation by Deborah Sherman of KUSA-Denver looked into the problem of personal property lost at Denver Health. In addition to personal affects such as purses, identification and clothing, the lost items also included a prosthetic eye and dentures. In 2006, 368 pieces of property were reported missing from the Denver Health ER. A hospital representative said all patients were compensated for their property, but patients interviewed for the story disputed that claim. Sherman found fewer loss reports at comparable hospitals.

Danger of common chemical downplayed

In a second installment of "Chemical Fallout," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters Susanne Rust, Meg Kissinger and Cary Spivak found that the chemical industry has funded much of the science claiming that the popular chemical bisphenol A is safe. The reporters built a database of 258 scientific studies spanning 20 years of research into the chemical and found that 80 percent of the research showed the chemical poses health risks to laboratory animals. Bisphenol A can be found in hard plastics — including baby bottles, dental sealants, PVC pipes and reusable ... Read more ...

Emergency response times lagging in Ohio's Delaware County

An investigation by Paul Aker of WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, shows that Delaware County's emergency response times fall short of the industry standard. The National Fire Protection Association's voluntary guidelines call for processing 99 percent of calls within 90 seconds. In Delaware County, the 911 center's interim director told Aker he wants to see dispatches under two minutes. WBNS looked at a sample of calls for suspected heart attacks and found that 59 percent took more than one minute to process and 30 percent took at least 90 seconds. The story also revealed that the center does ... Read more ...