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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 1895

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

The fine line between education and marketing..
Proj Inf Perspect 1999 Sep 01; (28):1-3


AIDS: Doctors and AIDS activists have long been the target of marketing by the pharmaceutical industry. More recently, pharmaceutical companies have directed their marketing at case managers, hotline operators, and other individuals with access to harder-to-reach populations. This marketing takes the form of community meetings and targets carefully selected groups or treatment education programs and emphasizes the use of certain products. Such programs may be tempting for financially strained AIDS agencies. However, the AIDS community should be critical of the role that the pharmaceutical industry plays in disease and treatment education. Suggestions on how the needs of the pharmaceutical industry can be balanced with the needs of the AIDS community are provided.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome/drug therapy* Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use* Drug Industry* Humans Marketing of Health Services*/methods Patient Education*/methods United States


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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