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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 4472

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

Henson L.
Ego overload.
Australian Doctor Weekly 2004 Jul 5

Full text:

EDITOR I am writing in response to the stream of correspondence whinging about drug reps and medicines.

The latest is the letter by Dr Peter Mansfield, who makes a case for spending on medical education rather than on “overpriced” medication (‘Bad ads’, Gut Feelings, 4 June). This brings two questions to mind.

First, in what way would he say medicines are overpriced, and what drugs in particular does he mean in this sweeping statement? Second, the fibre of practising medicine lies in the therapy or ‘healing of the sick’, to whatever extent it is taken. Without medication and the advances in the science of pharmacology, medicine would still be in the dark ages.

A “healthy skeptic” wrote an article in a similar medical publication recently that modern drugs hold no advantage over older ones. What utter rubbish. For example, do you really suggest that general anaesthetics, with the use of modern equipment and drugs, carry the same risk as the use of ether and chloroform 50 years ago? Modern drugs save lives, and especially so in the case of antibiotics.

How can the PBS be taken seriously when, for instance, bisphosphonates are indicated, according to the PBS, after a pathological fracture was suffered? The idea is preventive medicine, is it not? High-risk osteoporotic women should take these drugs before a fracture has occurred.

I am even more exasperated by those who think I will prescribe an inappropriate drug simply because of a visit by a drug rep or a sponsored meal. That is an insult to everybody in this profession.

Please get real, and be thankful for drug companies, which supply us with the means to treat patients appropriately. And be even more thankful for the friendly drug reps who will educate you, if you will get off your own egos, and ask.

Dr Len Henson

Northam, WA


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As an advertising man, I can assure you that advertising which does not work does not continue to run. If experience did not show beyond doubt that the great majority of doctors are splendidly responsive to current [prescription drug] advertising, new techniques would be devised in short order. And if, indeed, candor, accuracy, scientific completeness, and a permanent ban on cartoons came to be essential for the successful promotion of [prescription] drugs, advertising would have no choice but to comply.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963