Thursday, June 15, 2006

Article About Grassley On TV, In Newspapers -- But Not the Register. Bud Appleby Wonders 'What Register's Crack Washington Staff Has Been Doing'

Bud Appleby of Des Moines writes:

"Interesting story about Senator Grassley [right] on TV last night and in the Washington Post and other newspapers this morning. But it was not in the Register.

"Makes a person wonder what the crack staff at the Register's Washington bureau has been doing.

"The Washington Post story was on the Register's website early this morning, but it looks like it has been removed from there. At least I can't find it now.

"Here is the AP version:

WASHINGTON - Federal health officials on Wednesday rebuffed a lawmaker's attempt to meet with a Food and Drug Administration special agent who is investigating an antibiotic linked to a dozen reports of liver failure, including several deaths.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Health and Human Services Department officials denied him access to the agent. Grassley later said he may convene a Senate Finance Committee hearing as part of that staff's ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud connected with trials of the drug, Ketek.

"I smell a cover-up," said Grassley, who is chairman of the committee.

Allowing the agent to speak to Grassley would have violated policy and compromised that agent's work, FDA spokeswoman Susan Bro said.

"Imposing inquiries on an investigator during the process and or releasing documents involved with an open investigation could essentially provide a roadmap of our ongoing work and seriously undermine the investigation," Bro said.

The FDA has received reports of 12 cases of acute liver failure, including four deaths, in patients treated with Ketek, according to an internal FDA memo. Sanofi-Aventis SA makes the drug, which the FDA approved in 2004. The company has said it believes Ketek is safe and effective when used as directed.

If warranted, the FDA would consider strengthening warnings on the drug's label, Bro said.

The FDA-approved label for Ketek warns of liver disfunction that can be severe but is "usually reversible."

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"On another matter," Appleby wrote, "I noticed on Page 7B this morning that 'The Newspaper Iowa Depends Upon' thinks the town of Shell Rock is spelled as one word -- Shellrock."

* * *

This just in.....

A source in the Register newsroom says editor Carolyn Washburn and managing editor Randy Brubaker are being blamed equally for the screw-up on the Grassley article.

It figures.

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Todd Voss, who had a 108-32 record in four years as the women's basketball coach at Concordia [Neb.] University while leading the team to a pair of NAIA Final Four appearances, has been named assistant women's basketball coach at Drake.

Voss [left] will replace former assistant coach Jon Will, who left Drake in May to be named head coach at East High School in Cheyenne, Wyo.

"I am extremely excited about the addition of Todd Voss to our staff," said Drake coach Amy Stephens. "Todd brings a wealth of winning experiences to our staff and his track record with post players is second to none."

Voss led Concordia to NAIA Division II Final Four appearances in 2003 and 2005. During the 2002-2003 season, the Bulldogs finished 36-2 en route to earning the No. 1 national ranking in the final NAIA poll.

During the 2003-04 reason, Concordia reached the Elite Eight of the NAIA tournament, while posting a 28-8 record. In the 2004-05 season, the Bulldogs finished 31-5. This past season, Concordia finished 13-17.

"We are really excited to join the Drake family," said Voss, a native of Schleswig, IA. "Drake is an outstanding academic institution and I am thrilled about the opportunity to join Amy Stephens and her staff."

Voss and his wife Amy have a 9-year old daughter, Karlee.