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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16459

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

Gérvas J, Mansfield PR
Physicians, the industry and population health
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2009; 63:(10):773-774


In the 1840s, many doctors carried out autopsies of women who had died of childbirth fever. The doctors sometimes became infected with bacteria without knowing it. When they delivered more babies, they transmitted the infection to more women, causing more to die. When it was suggested to the doctors that they might be unintentionally carrying harmful bacteria they felt insulted and reacted with angry denials. Fortunately, since then our profession has gone through a paradigm shift based on understanding the germ theory of disease. Initially, it was thought that doctors who deliver babies should never carry out autopsies, but methods of preventing and/or curing bacterial infection such as surgical gloves and hand washing have been shown to be effective.

We now face a similar situation. In 2008, many doctors allowed themselves to be exposed to drug promotion. These doctors may have become infected with bias without knowing it. When they . . .


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Email a Friend 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; 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.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.