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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20478

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

Fowler J
'War' on the drug firms who cheat
Daily News 1984 Nov 2310

Full text:

A big international drug company is promoting anabolic steroids in underdeveloped countries for use on undernourished children.

The promotion is based on the notion that the drug will make the children look bigger. It is typical of the type of drug advertising that Dr Peter Mansfield is trying to stop.

Dr Mansfield, from Adelaide, says that some drug companies use one set of marketing and promotion rules for underdeveloped countries and another set of rules elsewhere.

He has worked in Bangladesh and studied the advertising and promotion of drugs in similar countries.

“They are doing things that they couldn’t and wouldn’t do in developed countries such as Australia”, Dr Mansfield said.

“There are taking advantage of the ignorance of many people working in health care in these countries. They are often deliberate attempts to mislead village health workers, who play an important role in the health of the local people. The village health workers have a basic knowledge of healthcare, but they are not medically trained. They are easily mislead by impressive sounding advertisements in medical journals”.

Dr Mansfield, who is a resident medical officer at the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide, started the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing in the hope of stopping the misleading advertising.

The group now has 160 members and Dr Mansfield is in Perth to speak to doctors about its aims.
MLAM has already been successful in getting some complaints to change their advertising in underdeveloped countries”, Dr Mansfield said.

“For example, a company which markets an anti-diarrohea preparation in underdeveloped countries forgot to mention in their promotion that it was not suitable for children under two years. In fact, it can be very dangerous if given to young children, and we wrote to the company reminding them about this. The company has told us that they are changing their advertisements”.

Dr Mansfield said that MLAM would try to stop the company promoting the anabolic steroids for use on thin and undernourished babies and toddlers. These drugs were dangerous and unsuitable for children.


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