Archive for May 29th, 2009

Feathers Fly at KFC

May 29th, 2009 | No Comments | Source: Wall Street Journal

thechallengerEl Pollo Loco, a chain of 418 grilled-chicken restaurants based in the Southwest, is engaged in an ugly cock fight with industry giant Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Last month, KFC launched a grilled-chicken product amid great fanfare. It was the largest new-product launch in the history of the bespectacled Colonel’s storied franchise, and a lightning strike to the grill of El Pollo Loco.

It didn’t buckle the contender’s knees. In fact, El Pollo Loco’s CEO Steve Carley unleashed a furious counterattack including TV commercials challenging KFC to a taste test.

He even set up a toll-free number that the Colonel could to call to arrange a showdown.

Yum Brands’ KFC, which has 11,000 outlets world-wide, claims it wasn’t ruffled by the challenge.

thecolonel“We’re certainly more focused on Kentucky grilled chicken than on any advertising or online efforts of competitors,” KFC spokesman Rick Maynard told the Wall Street Journal.

Maybe so, but when a flood of calls came in to the hot line from people claiming to prefer KFC’s entry, El Pollo Loco’s handlers determined by tracing the caller IDs that some of the calls originated from HQ over at KFC.

“We’ve been grilling our employees to see if anyone’s done any undercover dialing,” Maynard said.

For El Pollo Loco though, this was a chance to make some serious gravy. It posted follow-up videos on YouTube outing KFC’s purported sham calls and claiming it had gotten under the Colonel’s oven-baked skin.

The spat has now escalated to the grandest stage of all, as king-maker Oprah Winfrey–who in the last year alone got the other Big O elected president and quadrupled the value of Twitter—announced that viewers could download coupons from her Web site for a freebie at KFC.

actualchickenOnce again, El Pollo Loco was ready. The coupons, it turned out, were good through mid-May, excepting Mother’s Day.

The contender posted yet another video on YouTube.

“What does KFC have against Moms?” it asked, while offering to honor KFC’s coupons on the holy day.

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IOM Tees Off on Industry Links

May 29th, 2009 | No Comments | Source: Institute of Medicine, MedPageToday

Responding to a flood of stories regarding unseemly relationships between researchers and the private sector, the venerable Institute of Medicine has released a report that declares it’s time for the medical community to clean up its act.

headedforthetrap“Such conflicts present the risk of undue influence on professional judgments and may jeopardize the integrity of scientific investigations, the objectivity of medical education, the quality of patient care, and the public’s trust in medicine,” the report said.

The report’s notable recommendations include:

Professional societies, academic medical centers, and medical journals should implement conflict-of-interest policies that require financial disclosures between their staff and Big Industry.

Practice guideline-writing groups should exclude participants that have conflicts of interest.

Insurance companies should avoid promulgating policies based on guidelines that could be perceived as having conflict of interest problems.

Scientists should not undertake human trials if they are tied financially to the outcome of the research.

Teaching hospitals should proscribe staff from engaging in industry-controlled presentations, accepting gifts and claiming they wrote ghost-written manuscripts.

The IOM panel that prepared the report was chaired by Bernard Lo, director of medical ethics at UCSF.

“We do not say that if you disclose, problems will go away,” Lo told MedPageToday. “(But) there are certain types of relationships that are longstanding that doctors should not engage in anymore.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America responded that Big Pharma is already “careful to ensure that relationships with healthcare professionals and students are ethical and appropriate.”

And a device maker advocacy group said her groups’ code of ethics already covers the bases.

“We feel that physicians and industry interaction is important,” said Wanda Moebius, VP for policy communications at AdvaMed. “It helps improve communication, drives innovation and improves patient care.”

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