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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 3487

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

Mansfield PR.
Banning all drug promotion is the best option pending major reforms.
J Bioethical Inquiry 2005; 2:(2):16-22


Abstract:

Drug promotion should be evaluated according to its impact on health, access to information, informed consent, and wealth. Drug promotion currently does more harm than good to each of these objectives because it is usually misleading. This is a systemic problem. Whilst improved regulation and education will address it to some degree, major reforms to payment systems for drug companies and doctors are also required. Until all these systemic reforms can be put in place, the best policy option is to ban the promotion of drugs to doctors and the public. Consequently, pending major reforms, it is appropriate for governments to restrict drug promotion as much as is politically achievable.

 

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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