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Healthy Skepticism International News

August 2002

AN UNHEALTHY ALLIANCE: A discourse analytic study of General Practitioners and Pharmaceutical…

August - October 2002 Vol 20 No 8-10


A discourse analytic study of General Practitioners and Pharmaceutical Representatives, Gifts and Samples


ABSTRACT                                                                    iv

DECLARATION                                                                vi

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                       vii

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION                                            1         Pharmaceutical Promotion

1.1.1.      General Overview

1.1.2.      The Influence of Pharmaceutical Promotion on Prescribing

1.2         Medical Ethics

1.3         Ethical Dilemmas

CHAPTER TWO: METHODOLOGY                                        22

2.1         Discourse Analysis

2.2         Collection of Data

2.3         Analysis Procedure

2.4         Methodological Issues

2.5         Analysis Outline


3.1         The ‘Business’ Repertoire

        3.2         The ‘Information/Knowledge’ Repertoire

        3.3         Discussion

REFERENCES                                                                  59

APPENDICES:                                                                67

A:        Information Letter                                                    

B:        Consent Form                                                        

C:        Focus Group Information Sheet                                  

D:        Focus Group Questions and Issue Statements                    

E:        Transcript Notation                                                  

F:        MaLAM                                                            

G:        AMA Position Statement: Code of Ethics                        

H:        ‘Business’ Repertoire Extracts                                        

I:        ‘Information/Knowledge’ Repertoire Extracts



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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