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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 6901

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

Cottle M.
Selling shyness: how doctors and drug companies created the “social phobia” epidemic
New Republic 1999 Aug 2


At the same time that SmithKline Beecham received approval to market its antidepressant drug Paxil as a treatment for social phobia, a coalition of nonprofit groups, with financial support from SmithKline, launched a public awareness campaign about the condition under the slogan “Allergic to People.” This campaign is just one of a host of Anxiety Disorder Association of America (ADAA) projects that are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. One observer notes that drug companies don’t just market drugs they also maket views of illnesses. An example is how Merck in the 1960s bought and distributed 50000 copies of a book on recognizing and treating depression.

*feature story/United States/Anxiety Disorder Association of America/social phobia/SmithKline Beecham/Merck/conflict of interest/corporate funding/depression/Merck/Paxil/patient groups/PROMOTION BY THIRD PARTIES: PATIENT ORGANIZATIONS/SPONSORSHIP: PATIENT AND CONSUMER ORGANIZATIONS


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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