The communications team at Sanofi, the France-based global pharmaceutical company, quickly responded to a tweet by Roseanne Barr issued this morning about how her use of Ambien was related to her offensive tweet lobbed yesterday on Twitter about Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior advisor.

Barr’s comment on Twitter late last night was that, “I was ambien tweeting.”

Ambien is Sanofi’s prescription drug used by patients to deal with insomnia and sleeplessness. Data provided to the FDA from patients who have used the product demonstrate a variety of side effects including but not limited to nausea, headache, slowed breathing, and amnesia — but not racism as far as the post-marketing surveillance has revealed.

Kudos to Sanofi for their fast reaction to Barr’s blaming the company’s product for somehow addling her judgment. That, after a many tweets responding to fans’ supporting her right to free speech and at least two apologies for her “mistake.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  The uniquely American challenge of health disparities, especially relating to race, is a topic I’ve covered many times since the launch of Health Populi in 2007. As a child I grew up in metropolitan Detroit, and witnessed as a little girl the Detroit Riots of 1967 which I soberly discussed in this blog post written last July on the 50th anniversary of that event. That summer made a profound impact on me and my world view, from a very young age, that racism had no place in my own life. I hoped as I grew up that somehow, in some way, I could work in the future to help allay disparities based on race and ethnicity.

That’s the America I had envisioned and hoped for, the political home my parents, Kennedy-Humphrey Democrats at that moment, had made for us.

Sanofi, Disney and ABC, and MSNBC’s special programming on Racism in America broadcast last night (ironically timed) are bright spots at this moment in time when we need them. Any of us using Twitter and other social media should be mindful that words matter, and social networks can be used for good…or ill.

America’s healthcare system, the public’s health and individual health outcomes, all depend on us bolstering social determinants. Loving one another is the ultimate social determinant of health. That may be too much for me to ask today. For now, civil discourse, respect, transparency, trust, and social inclusion can help bolster the body politic for both political discourse and the public’s health.

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