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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 418

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

Vitry A, Mansfield P.
Drug advertisements in medical journals.
Lancet 1997 Nov 15; 350:(9089):1477-8

*letter to the editor Servier Coversyl BMJ Lancet journal advertisements quality of information attitude toward promotion regulation of promotion Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority ATTITUDES REGARDING PROMOTION: HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ATTITUDES REGARDING PROMOTION: MEDICAL JOURNALS EVALUATION OF PROMOTION: JOURNAL ADVERTISEMENTS REGULATION, CODES, GUIDELINES: JOURNALS AND MASS MEDIA


Servier is continuing to run advertisements for Coversyl which are misleading in the Lancet and BMJ. The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Panel in the United Kingdom found that claims in the ad were misleading. Are there commercial agreements between these journals and drug companies that prevent advertising campaigns from being stopped before their term when they are found to be misleading? Medical journals have a responsibility that go beyond rejecting offensive advertising. If the BMJ and Lancet do not want to review drug ads then they should put warnings on each advertisement.


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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