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SmithKline Beecham Ashton & Parsons Infants’s Powders (chamomile extract)

February 1995

Vol 13 Issue 2 This month: SmithKline Beecham claims Ashton & Parsons Infants' Powders "relieve restlessness, fretfulness and similar troubles". A paediatrician working in The Gambia tells us that the indications on the packet of this product (active ingredient chamomile extract) "could well be indicating meningitis rather than teething and the instructions suggest that mothers should persist for 5 days before consulting a doctor ... poor mothers part with relatively large sums of money in the belief that a British company like Beechams would not say that it works if it didn't." News: Profile of Dr. Peter Mansfield, Secretary, MaLAM Inc.

 

 

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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