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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 8247

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

Fleg AN.
Introduction to pharmaceuticology
studentBMJ 2007; 15:45-88


It’s a course we should all take seriously, argues Anthony N Fleg

Medical students learn much about the art of medicine in their clinical years, honing diagnostic and therapeutic skills. What you may not realise is the added, non-credit course that you take in the middle of your rotations-introduction to pharmaceuticology. Differing from pharmacology, the study of therapeutic agents and their effects on the body, pharmaceuticology involves the interaction between doctors and the industry that manufactures and promotes these agents. Medical schools do not prepare their students for the onslaught of drug company salespeople and advertisements that immediately vie for our loyalty. Gone are the days of the preclinical years, when drugs were known by their hard to pronounce generic names and complicated mechanism of action. Now the medical student is expected to speak in the language of brand names, pill colours, and catchy drug slogans…


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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