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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14783

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: Journal Article

Sweet M.
Australian health professionals warned against featuring in advertisements
BMJ. 2008 Dec 11; 337:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/337/dec11_1/a2951?papetoc


Abstract:

An Australian professor has cautioned doctors and other health professionals against featuring in commercial advertisements or advertorials that promote drugs or other health and medical products.

Warwick Anderson, chief executive officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council and previously a senior scientist at Monash University and the Baker Institute, also thinks that health professionals should not participate in commercially driven disease awareness campaigns.

Professor Anderson made the comments in response to a project by the online news service Crikey, which documents extensive ties between commercial marketing campaigns and health professionals. Crikey’s register of influence includes many doctors who have appeared in advertisements and advertorials (www.crikey.com.au/The-Crikey-Register-of-Influence.html).

Professor Anderson said that the relationship between the health professions and commercial interests was “a very hot, live issue” and would be the subject of a forum at the council next year.

He thinks that many health professionals who participate in . . .

 

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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