“to influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism (http://www.healthyskepticism.org; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them [NoFreeLunch, Social Audit].”
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4. [Full text free after registration on the Lancet website]
Feedback from around the world about the AdWatch prototype in 2003.
“Thanks for your thought provoking work.”
“This is an excellent way of educating us.”
“Great new development. I like this short form.”
“I enjoy having the ads analysed like this. Keep up the good work.”
“They use the very same -misleading - claims “up here”, in Finland, too.”
“A useful way to point out the tricks of the advertising trade to doctors and others.”
“Very clear comments on confusing advertising. I look forward to the next AdWatch.”
“This type of work will definitely create more informed prescribers and ultimately patients will benefit a lot.”
“AdWatch is fabulous - interesting to see deconstructionism at work in such a pragmatic context. Well done!”
“GREAT WORK!!!! This is JUST what busy physicians need to be able to “counterdetail”. Thank you so much.”
“This helps not only with this particular drug, but also equips me to better evaluate other drug company claims. Thanks.”
“I have regarded highly what has been done by MaLAM/Healthy Skepticism over the years. I have learnt about the pharmaceutical industry, have been educated about appropriate use of medications which has led to changes in my prescribing habits, and remain supportive of endeavours to encourage Drs to prescribe wisely.
While remaining supportive of EBM I have concerns about some of the ruthless sequelae of applying EBM, and hence appreciate the word “compassion” in one of your statements.
Keep up the good work.
I’d be pleased to pay $75 a year.”
- Dr Ian Traise, B Med (Newcastle) FRACGP
“The recent case studies [ July/August 2001 Vol 19 No 7/8 Hormone Replacement Therapy HTML. - Acrobat pdf version and January/June 2001 Vol 19 No 1/6 Scepticism and beliefs about new drugs. ] were very helpful and a good format.”
- HealthySkepticism subscriber
“I attended your series of lectures regarding Drug Promotion, initially thinking that it would be a leisurely break from the “real” pharmacology of drug doses, classes, and so forth. So after those lectures, I was shocked. Positively, however. I was suddenly made aware that the subtle yet powerful effects of drug promotion were just as important and “real” as receptor-blocking and secondary messenger systems. Through a combination of statistics, clinical evidence, anecdotes and humour, you made your points succinctly and clearly.”
- Third Year medical student.
Responses to a contribution from Healthy Skepticism to a debate on the nofreelunch e-mail list:
“This is a beautifully written and compelling comment. well done!” - JRH
“You’re phenomenal!” - ACB
“Brilliant rebuttal.” - DF
“Masterly!” - JJ
The following comments were made when Healthy Skepticism was operating under its previous name MaLAM (Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing).
MaLAM “has made a substantial impact on grossly inappropriate marketing in the developing world.”
- Smith AJ. Leading article. Med J Aust 1992; 156: 299
“I am impressed by MaLAM. I think the newsletters are fascinating demonstrations of the application of evidence-based medicine principles.”
- The late Prof. Chris Silagy, then Director of the Australasian Cochrane Centre, Personal correspondence
“Through its carefully prepared and technically sound newsletters MaLAM is making a positive contribution to curbing the inappropriate promotion of drugs for common childhood diseases.”
- Dr. Jim Tulloch, Director of Division of Child Health and Development, World Health Organisation, Personal correspondence
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