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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14646

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Concern over MA speaker
Pharmacy Daily (Australia) - registration required 2008 Nov 19

Full text:

NON-PROFIT group Healthy Skepticism has raised concerns about the pharmacutical industry connections of a keynote speaker at the upcoming Australian Medicines Policy Conference.

Healthy Skepticism (HS) is dedicated to “improving health by reducing harm from misleading drug promotion,” and has written to Dept of Health and Ageing Deputy Secretary David Learmonth about the “appropriateness” of Canadian speaker Durhane Wong-Rieger, who’s billed as a consumer advocate but according to HS has “extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry.”

Learmonth has dismissed the concerns, saying Dr Wong-Rieger’s industry connections are well known and that she’s not speaking as a consumer advocate.


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963