Saturday, February 10, 2007


Dr Dork has found it highly disturbing in recent years to note an increasing trend whereby doctors are appearing in television advertisements. Often extolling the wondrous virtues of certain competing "over the counter" analgesics.

As reported here and supported by the AMA, the Federal government has acted to close a loophole in TGA regulations whereby a few shonky medicos had been rather lax in recalling the recommendations of this old Greek chap.

Dr Dork was frankly surprised, and disappointed, when these ads started appearing a couple of years back. He is uncomfortable enough with the marketing of pharmaceuticals as it is.

Thankfully direct to consumer advertising of prescription medication is not permitted here, as it is similarly banned in most of the developed world - the only exceptions being the US and our Kiwi neighbours.

Dr Dork is of the opinion that to nonspecifically promote one specific treatment, therapy or medication to the general public, when it is not always the best option, and there is furthermore a risk of harm, is a gross violation of rudimentary medical ethics. Especially when one is being paid to lie.

A lie of omission, rather than commission, perhaps, but a lie nonetheless.

Fortunately, at least one of the offenders listened to Mr Cricket after all.

This type of behaviour should never have been allowed in the first place. It indirectly violates primum non nocere. It harms the therapeutic nature of the doctor-patient relationship in general for all who see it, and demeans the profession as a whole in that the public observes the lack of any consequences for these unscrupulous bad apples.

Time for a cuppa and a lie down again.


Flea said...

Shonky medicos? I'll have to look that one up. Perhaps it's Australian for "sorry dude who only wants his mug on the telly?".



word verification = zxyxvldf = Welsh for "shonky medico"

DrWes said...

"Shonky" = Contracture of Shaman + Donkey

Rob (Not a Shonkey) said...

I thought it was Stupid + Honkey.

I agree with the point of your post, by the way. I was not aware that we were the lone rangers when it came to indulging pharma. Another reason to hang our American heads.


Bo... said...

I agree with you, doc. (Mr. Cricket always did give good advice, heh!)

AzRN said...

Just the other day I saw Robert Jarvik ( hawking a statin the other day on t.v. I think it's dangerous for healthcare professionals to endorse products especially since the advent of the online pharmacy. Good food for thought.

Health Psych said...

Some of the ads. make it clear the doctor received financial payment but I don't seem to remember that being the case with the Fiona Wood-Nurofen ad.

My pet hate is Dr. Staraj and his weight loss formula.

It's good that the trend is about to be stopped.

Dr Dork said...

Hullo Flea,
See here

Drs Wes & Rob,
Ha! I think both fit very well.

*Slap* on the wrist for trusting big pharma Rob. And a wedgie.

Hi Boheme,
Mr Cricket lives in my top pocket. I didn't realise he visited anyone else. I feel cheated.

Hi AZ,
I agree. One hopes he has come to regret it. The eminent Oz burns surgeon I linked to was not only in violation of ethical behaviour as a medical professional (to my mind, at least) but also found her personal and professional reputation significantly affected.

I was under the impression that was a legal requirement but they tend to flash it up so quickly and in such minute type it's almost subliminal. That Staraj guy gives me the creeps, frankly.

Kind regards

Alison said...

The other creepy thing for me, and I could rave on about this one for hours ( and I do) is the psychologist on Big Brother who makes comments about the behaviours and motives of the inmates (sic). I don't watch the show and I never will. But I do KNOW ABOUT THIS PERSON.

What is there to comment on anyway? The only thing to say is , "Hey! Look at me! Here I am prostituting my profession raving about the lowest forms of human behaviour and making a nice packet from it too. Thanks!"

Grrr. Just Grrr. Makes me want to hit someone in the head. (Speaking of lowest forms of human...)

Shiny Happy Person said...

God, that's appalling!

I hate doctors who became full-time media whores. In the UK, Raj Persaud is a good example of this. In my opinion. And I am always right.

Shiny Happy Person said...

And another thing. There is a big difference between doctors who appear on TV as part of some kind of public-information programme, ie raising awareness about a certain condition etc, and those who will do fucking anything to get their fizzog on the gogglebox, to quote Rowan Atkinson. A la Big Brother. A la Raj Persaud writing bollocksy problem pages in crap women's magazine, apparently solving a complex emotional or psychiatric dilemma in 500 words. And writing dreadful self-help books with titles like "Simply Irresistible: The Psychology of Seduction - How to Catch and Keep Your Perfect Partner." What a fucking insulting title! And how apt that his surname rhymes with "fraud".


Fallen Angels said...

And now a patient/consummer perspective...

I HATE the pharm ads period! Doc or no doc. I really don't enjoy having my show interupted to listen to some guy talk about his erectile disfunction, or some young party girl go on and on about the wonders of "the pill" (or Nuvo ring). The psych med ones are the worst. Feeling down? Sleeping too much or too little? Irritable? You might be clinically depressed! Or BiPolar! Or have PMS...or PMDD...or...maybe you need to eat better, exercise, talk to your doctor and stop watching so much tv! GRRRR!!

Dr Dork said...

Hi Shiny,

I agree, I'm referring to the thankfully small number of docs who whore their professional benevolence to promote shite. Some media docs are fine, but it's hard for anyone to compress any health issue into a 10 secon soundbite.

Hi FA,
You're preaching to the converted here!
Check this out. (via Pharmagossip


Calavera said...

Yeah, like 'Dr.' Gillian McKeith, with her Horny Goatweed and all...

Dr Dork said...

I don't know if we get her TV show here in Oz or not, I think we used to as she is vaguely familiar, but from what I've been reading on about Gillian McKeith, she is so low that she flies under the radar completely. My understanding is that she is a woman who claims a 'PhD' from a dubious, unaccredited and unrecognised US correspondence college, who pretends to be a 'nutritionist', gives unqualified medical advice that is so erroneous in matters of basic science it is laughable, who has been now legally banned from claiming to be a 'Dr' and has hawked products so dodgy they were withdrawn from sale completely last year.

Who nonetheless has made millions leeching from the hip pockets of the gullible and ignorant. It boggles the mind.

/end ranting


Shiny Happy Person said...

Yeah, and Ben Goldacre was able to purchase the same qualification for his dead cat!

Love Bad Science.

Hate Gillian McGerbil.

Dr Dork said...


Sorry I missed your comment earlier somehow. I find the whole schadenfreude of reality tv - of which BigBrother is arguably the rmel - forget her last name - from BB seems a me. I'd also question whether she is ultimately acting in the best interests of the 'housemates' olowest form - somewhat disturbing at times. It seems so much to be about savouring the misfortune of others, and can be quite damaging psychologically to these 'contestants' who are often barely more than adolescents. I worry about the lack of confidentiality in what psychological support is offered, and conflicts of interest.


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