David Armstrong

Senior Reporter

David Armstrong is a senior reporter at ProPublica, specializing in health care investigations. He joined ProPublica in March, 2018. Before that, he was a senior enterprise reporter for STAT, where he wrote about abuses in the addiction treatment industry, the rise of fentanyl and the recruiting of college football players with histories of concussions. Armstrong previously worked in the investigative unit at Bloomberg News, where he reported on the overuse of cardiac stents, problematic back surgeries and excesses in the pain industry.

Armstrong was also a reporter for nine years at the Wall Street Journal, where he reported on the influence of pharmaceutical and medical device companies on the practice of medicine – and the resulting harm to patients. He was part of the Journal staff awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting for coverage of the attacks of Sept. 11. Armstrong was a reporter for the Boston Globe from 1993 to 2000, where his investigation of safety flaws in elevators and escalators won a George Polk Award and the Investigative Reporters and Editors award.

One Reason Caregivers Are Wearing Trash Bags: A U.S. Firm Had to Recall 9 Million Surgical Gowns

Cardinal Health withdrew the gowns just before the pandemic because a Chinese supplier failed to sterilize them properly. The recall has created what a hospital association official called a “ripple effect.”

Doctors Are Hoarding Unproven Coronavirus Medicine by Writing Prescriptions for Themselves and Their Families

Pharmacists told ProPublica that they are seeing unusual and fraudulent prescribing activity as doctors stockpile unproven coronavirus drugs endorsed by President Donald Trump.

As Doctors and Nurses Grow Desperate for Protective Gear, They Fear They’re Infecting Patients

The CDC and hospitals have put medical providers and patients at risk as they fail to address national supply shortages. One emergency room doctor who did not have proper equipment and learned he had COVID-19 said, “I’m sure I exposed everyone I saw.”

Medical Conferences Didn’t Cancel, Exposing Doctors Who Treat High-Risk Patients to Coronavirus

A kidney care company did not cancel its conference even as the coronavirus spread. One attendee has been diagnosed, prompting fears that it will spread among doctors and patients. It’s one of several medical conferences that were not canceled.

The Trump Administration Drove Him Back to China, Where He Invented a Fast Coronavirus Test

A federal crackdown on professors’ undisclosed outside activities is achieving what China has long struggled to do: spur Chinese scientists to return home. In this crisis, it’s costing the U.S. intellectual firepower.

Federally Funded Health Researchers Disclose at Least $188 Million in Conflicts of Interest. Can You Trust Their Findings?

A National Institutes of Health database, which we’re making public for the first time, shows that researchers have reported more than 8,000 “significant” financial conflicts, potentially influencing their work.

Help Us Report On Conflicts of Interest at Universities

We have collected more than 37,000 financial disclosures for professors and staff at about 20 public universities and researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. Now, we need your help.

Dollars for Profs: Search Conflicts of Interest

For the first time ever, you can see conflict of interest and financial disclosure records for employees of universities across the country.

We Asked Public Universities for Their Professors’ Conflicts of Interest — and Got the Runaround

We assembled the first state-by-state database of professors’ outside income and employment. But it’s far from complete.

Inside Purdue Pharma’s Media Playbook: How It Planted the Opioid “Anti-Story”

OxyContin’s makers delayed the reckoning for their role in the opioid crisis by funding think tanks, placing friendly experts on leading outlets, and deterring or challenging negative coverage.

Data Touted by OxyContin Maker to Fight Lawsuits Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

Downplaying its role in the opioid epidemic, Purdue Pharma has embraced a federal statistic showing it was a minor player in the pain pill market. But when we took drug potency into account, Purdue’s importance soared.

Watch Richard Sackler Deny His Family’s Role in the Opioid Crisis

Sackler testified in 2015 in a lawsuit brought by Kentucky against his family’s company, Purdue Pharma, which makes the painkiller OxyContin. We published the transcript in February. Now you can see the video.

In Men, It’s Parkinson’s. In Women, It’s Hysteria.

Neurologist Laura Boylan suffered from tremors and loss of balance that she attributed to a cyst in her brain. Why didn’t her doctors believe her?

Boston Hospital Reports Disciplining of Renowned Child Abuse Skeptic

Last September, we examined Dr. Michael Holick’s work as an expert witness for alleged abusers. In the wake of the article, his hospital notified Massachusetts’ medical board that it restricted his privileges.

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

As OxyContin addiction spurred a national nightmare, a member of the family that has reaped billions of dollars from the painkiller boasted that sales exceeded his “fondest dreams,” according to a secret court document obtained by ProPublica.

OxyContin Maker Explored Expansion Into “Attractive” Anti-Addiction Market

Secret portions of a lawsuit allege that Purdue Pharma, controlled by the Sackler family, considered capitalizing on the addiction treatment boom — while going to extreme lengths to boost sales of its controversial opioid.

Doctors Defending Convicted Child Abuser “Exceed the Limits of Credulity,” Judge Rules

The decision in a closely watched Florida case was a setback for Dr. David Ayoub, following our recent article about his work as an expert witness.

An Anti-Vaxxer’s New Crusade

Dr. David Ayoub used to be active in the anti-vaccination movement. Now he’s challenging mainstream science again — as an expert witness for accused child abusers.

The Child Abuse Contrarian

Michael Holick, a renowned scientist turned expert witness, relies on his own controversial theory to help alleged abusers avoid prison and regain custody of the babies they were accused of harming.

Sacklers Who Disavow OxyContin May Have Benefited From It

A little-known court document sheds light on the family feud over the multibillion-dollar painkiller’s association with the opioid crisis.

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