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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 8521

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

Roughead EE, Lexchin J.
Adverse drug events: counting is not enough, action is needed.
Med J Aust 2006 Apr 3; 184:(7):315-6


An article in this issue of the Journal by Miller and colleagues1 provides further evidence of the magnitude and seriousness of the problem of adverse drug events (ADEs) in general practice. Their study highlights our ongoing failure to address the problem of ADEs – medication-related incidents that cause patient harm.

“Consumer Medicine Information needs to be routinely used in medical encounters, so that patients can recognise ADEs and know what to report to their GP . . .”

Each year in Australia, about 17.5 million people make 95 million visits to their general practitioner.2 Based on Miller et al’s estimate – that 10.4% of patients attending general practice experience an ADE – almost 2 million people have an ADE annually. Moreover, their findings show that these ADEs are not trivial, with about 1 million being moderate or severe and 138 000 requiring hospitalisation, a finding consistent with previous estimates.3 Many of these ADEs are preventable, although the exact proportion of preventable events can be debated.

There have now been more than 30 Australian studies estimating the number of ADEs in different settings.3 It is clear that counting is not enough – it is time for action, but what can be done?…

Publication Types: Comment Editorial MeSH Terms: Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems/organization & administration* Australia Drug Therapy/adverse effects* Drug Therapy/statistics & numerical data* Family Practice/organization & administration* Family Practice/statistics & numerical data* Humans Medication Errors/prevention & control Medication Errors/statistics & numerical data Organizational Culture


Comment in:
Med J Aust. 2006 Jun 19;184(12):646.

Comment on:
Med J Aust. 2006 Apr 3;184(7):321-4.


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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