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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 17234

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

Othman N, Vitry AI, Roughead EE
Medicines information in medical journal advertising in Australia, Malaysia and the United States: A comparative cross-sectional study
Southern Med Review 2010; 3:(1): Issue1.pdf


Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the provision of medicines information in medical journal advertising in
Malaysia and the United States.

Methods: A consecutive sample of 85 unique advertisements from each country was selected from the advertisements
between January 2004 to December 2006 in three widely circulated medical journals and one prescribing reference manual.
availability of brand name and generic name, indication, contraindications, dosage, side-effects, warnings, interactions
and precautions
was compared between the three countries.

Results: We examined 255 distinct advertisements for 136 pharmaceutical products. Journal advertising in Australia,
Malaysia and
the US usually provided brand names and generic names (range 96 -100%). Information on dosage was significantly less
likely to be
mentioned (32%) in the US than in Australia (92%) and Malaysia (48%) (P < 0.001). Warning information was significantly
less likely
to be provided in Australia (5%) than in the US (81%) and Malaysia (9%) (P < 0.001). Apart from information on brand
name, generic
name, warnings and dosage, other product information significantly less likely to be provided in journal advertising in
Malaysia than
in Australia and the US (P < 0.001). Similar trends in the provision of product information for the same medicines
published in these
countries were noted. Brand name and generic name were always provided in the three countries (100%). However,
information on
the negative effects of medicines was less frequently provided in Malaysia than in Australia and the US.

Conclusions: Journal advertising in Australia, Malaysia and the US failed to provide complete product information. Low
quality of
information provided in Malaysia indicates the need for effective regulation of provision of medicines information in
journal advertising.
Different standards of medicines information provided in these three countries suggest that pharmaceutical promotion
needs to be
better controlled at the international level.

Pharmaceutical advertisements, promotion, regulation, Malaysia, Australia.


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909