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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14865

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

Hopkins Tanne J.
US psychiatrist is fired from radio programme for not disclosing drug company ties
BMJ 2008 Dec 9; 337:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/337/dec09_1/a2934


Abstract:

Frederick Goodwin, an eminent US psychiatrist, has been fired as host of a popular radio programme after Senator Charles Grassley revealed that the doctor had received $1.2m (£0.8m; 0.9m) in speaking fees and $100 000 in expenses from GlaxoSmithKline since 2000 (Congressional Record, 19 Nov, pp S10641-4, “Payments to Radio Host”)

The award winning programme, The Infinite Mind, was carried on two satellite channels of National Public Radio (NPR). It was produced by an independent company, Lichtenstein Creative Media, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr Goodwin began hosting the programme in 1998.

NPR issued a statement saying that all programmes on the satellite channels were “expected to adhere to the same code of ethics and practices that apply to programs produced and distributed by NPR. It appears that The Infinite Mind was in direct violation of that code, and is being removed from the channel.”

 

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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