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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19671

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: news

Misleading ads by drug firms must be checked
The New Indian Express 2011 Oct 29
http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/editorials/Misleading-ads-by-drug-firms-must-be-checked/327616.html


Full text:

Advertisements of drugs are usually frowned upon because they can be misleading. Only medical practitioners and drug specialists know the components of various drugs and their effects on the human body. Yet, a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research points to the dangerous practice of pharmaceutical firms advertising their products without following the guidelines prepared by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The guidelines are very clear, though they are wantonly disregarded.
The WHO stipulates that no unsubstantiated claims about the drug’s benefits should be made. Every advertisement should contain details of all the components in the drug and the basis on which any claims are made. In all, advertisements pertaining to 394 drugs published in 15 Indian medical journals were studied by the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research. It found that none of the advertisements measured up to the WHO standards. Far from that, claims like ‘tested’, ‘trusted’, ‘guaranteed success’ and ‘matchless safety’ were bandied about without any substantiation. The advertisements are out and out dangerous, to say the least.
Medicines taken without proper medical advice and in quantities, not prescribed by doctors, can lead to situations that can even threaten life. With self-medication very high even in cities where medical facilities are relatively better, the number of people suffering from immunity to antibiotics has been increasing. Such immunity can lead to life-threatening medical situations. Taking action against guilty drug firms is not all that difficult. If it is made mandatory for every drug manufacturer to ensure that their advertisement conformed to the WHO guidelines, half the task would be over. The Drug Controller General of India together with the state drug controllers and the medical fraternity can easily deal with errant advertisers. Whatever be the modus operandi, the unhealthy practice must end.

 

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There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong. Far from creating cynics, such a story is likely to foster a healthy and creative skepticism, which is something quite different from cynicism.”
- Neil Postman in The End of Education