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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 695

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

Beazley RN.
Drug Advertisements
Med J Aust 1935 Jan 12; 72

Full text:

Drug Advertisements

Sir: In today’s journal you print a timely letter from Dr. Inglis Robertson on the menace of drug advertisements. The British Medical Journal of November 24, 1934, reviews “Hospital Practice for Interns”. “a pocket volume, published by the American Medical Association, which provides a concise and carefully compiled materia medica” et cetera. The price is not stated. The purpose of the volume is to fortify the physician against the advertisements for proprietory remidies and against “the lure of the fixed formula” and “the facile flow of pseudoscience that eminates from the lips of the detail man”. That such a publication is badly needed is shown by the American Medical Association’s activity in its compilation. Could not our Association or the Australasian Medical Publishing Company arrange for the book to be made available in Australia?

yours, etc.,
R. N. Beazley.

Lane Cove Road.
New South Wales.
January 5, 1935


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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