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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 5589

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.
Another way to tame the monster
BMJ 2006 Jul 22; 333:(7560):202
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/short/333/7560/202-a?etoc%3e


Abstract:

EDITOR-The Angell-Spence-Godlee proposal to ban pharmaceutical manufacturers from researching their products has considerable merit.1 However, Healthy Skepticism advocates a more comprehensive alternative that will also reduce the harm currently caused by misleading promotion, biased industry funding of education, and high drug prices. Our alternative is also more politically achievable because implementation can be government revenue neutral while securing long term competitive return on investment for the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical companies currently have four main functions: manufacturing, research, promotion, and education. Performance of those functions is currently distorted by incentive systems that reward only activities that increase sales of more expensive drugs regardless of the impact on health care. We recommend that the four functions be paid for separately by government agencies via iterative competitive public tender. This would allow the relevant divisions and subcontractors of pharmaceutical companies to compete with universities and non-profit non-governmental organisations for funding . .

 

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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