Monday, February 23, 2009



On January 6, 2009 TV news giant CNN announced that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Reporter, had been offered and accepted the offer by then President Elect Barack Obama to become our nation’s next US Surgeon General

Respectfully, the signers of this petition, as both health care professionals and many thinking US citizens from all walks of life believe that the appointment of Dr. Gupta would be both a mistake and a very serious lost opportunity for this historic administration and for our nation. Conversely, we strongly recommend that Dr. George Lundberg would be an ideal appointment to this office in these times of unparalleled challenge.

Perhaps for the first time in recent history we believe that our Surgeon General’s first task is to use the “bully pulpit” of that position to help remoralize American Medicine in the following three areas. These three issues transcend any particular important scientific public-health topic per se like smoking, obesity, mental health, HIV/AIDS and many other worthy topics. But these core issues must be addressed first and foremost before any worthy scientific pubic health issue can be addressed effectively. So we urge our new Surgeon General to address the following upon entering the position.

1) Affordable health Insurance for all American Citizens. Not having health insurance is a major determinant of poor health. It is immoral for the wealthiest nation in the world to have 47 million American (greater than 15%) without some level of basic health services coverage. All the scientific breakthroughs that bio-medicine has to offer will not remove this current moral stain upon our national identity and psyche and reputation in the international community of nations. If we do not act soon this immorality will continue.

2) Rebuilding Trust in our Federal Agencies that are Responsible for our Public Heath. Because of an emphasis on deregulation in recent decades there has been a very serious erosion of public trust in our federal agencies that are legally charged by mandate to protect our public health. Examples of agencies that have failed recently are the FDA (especially protecting us from unsafe medications and unsafe food), the CDC who has presided over a series of failures relating to accurate risk management and communication in infectious diseases, to the EPA who has dangerously weakened standards to ensure clean and healthy air and water, and OSHA who has virtually abandoned its mandate to provide safe and healthy workplace for hardworking American workers. American consumers literally don’t know who or what to believe. This loss of trust in our federal agencies may take years to rebuild but our next Surgeon General must participate in this rebuilding process.

3) Wanton Overuse of Potentially Dangerous Medicines and Medical Technology – While the uninsured don’t receive basic medical care the insured (most of us) receive too many potentially dangerous medical interventions. The most glaring examples of this are excessive use of medication (polypharmacy) among the elderly especially in nursing homes, the out of control use of diagnostic imaging services like MRI and CAT scans, and the continued problem of unnecessary medical procedures and surgeries. All of these are examples of miracle technologies when taken to excess becoming dangerous. The reason we have this phenomenon in American medicine is excessive emphasis on the free market where sellers of these services convince American consumers through doctors and hospitals that they actually need them. Our next US Surgeon General needs to help put the brakes on these dangerous and costly excesses driven by a for profit model that is clearly out of control.

Dr. George Lundberg not only is a consummate public health scientist who knows public health issues, he strongly embraces the above three priorities in words and deeds.

As Editor- in-Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association’s journal, commonly known as JAMA, between 1982-1999, the most widely read medical journal in the world, Dr. Lundberg earned the respect of a worldwide readership of JAMA. In 1999 he then went onto become(until January 30, 2009) Editor-in-Chief of MEDSCAPE, the leading source of online health information and education for physicians thus establishing himself as genuine pioneer in e-medicine work a trend he recognized very early and began at the AMA. He was dubbed “Online HealthCare’s Medicine Man” by The Industry Standard. He excels in both professional and patient medical education.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta , conversely , trained in neurosurgery,-named in 2003 as one of the sexiest men in America-,shows little to no evidence of embacing the three fundamental priorities outlined above in this petition. Quite to the contrary Dr. Gupta has been a voice for the status quo in our very broken, profiteering based, bloated, bio-medical complex. One medical journalist described Gupta’s reporting as an “unquestioning –almost cheerleading approach to health news” most often reporting on the “the issue, or worse, the breakthrough of the day”. Gupta’s ties to the pharmacutical industry and medical testing industry need to be further investigated in his vetting process. We the signers of this petition demand this. And Gupta’s on–air attack of Michael Moore’s data contained in Moore’s movie Sicko requiring formal retraction by CNN and duly noted by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman of The New York Times was a disgrace.

At this critical time in nation’s history we need a physician with the gravitas, the in depth experience, the credibility with both the professional and public communities, and most importantly, the moral credentials and authority to effectively utilize the bully pulpit of the US Surgeon General position to speak, not only for good public health science removed from the excesses of financial interests, but also to speak from a platform of core lifelong values. Dr. George Lundberg fits that job description..

Quite frankly, in short, we need a man or woman of gravitas, moral fiber and substance – not a sexy media star, flitting from one opportunistic subject to another, apparently tied to vested interests- for this venerable office of US Surgeon General


Click here to sign the petition


Dr. Rick Lippin

NOTE UPDATE March 2009- We are now asking you to sign by clicking on this slightly revised petition- Thanks for your continued support!-Rick Lippin