Friday, January 15, 2010

Truth In Advertising?

(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)

Veterinary medicine has its quackbusters, just like human medicine. One of the veterinary news magazines has been publishing a series of articles by the quackbusters' current mouthpiece. Let's call her NR.

NR has written several long, rambling, nonsensical articles about various topics in alternative medicine. Honestly, this woman is such a poor writer; I don't know how she gets published. One of her recent statements was along the lines of how to tell the difference between a legitimate drug and a suspicious and bogus natural supplement. What's the difference? According to NR, the natural supplement will be represented solely by testimonials, as opposed to the drug, which is scientifically proven.

How many drug ads have you seen on TV lately?

Terry Gross interviewed Jane Lynch on National Public Radio's Fresh Air. Ms. Lynch mentioned that she had done a bit of commercial acting. Terry asked her which commercials she was in, to which Ms. Lynch replied, "Oh, I was the Nexium Lady." And the worst part was that everyone she met thought she actually had gastric reflux disease.

These drug ads? They are not real. They are "testimonials," except those everyman-looking people telling us, "I've had asthma for thirteen years," or "My COPD really used to slow me down," or "Now I'm Claritin clear" are actors. They are not the real people with the conditions that are being sold.

The Chantix ad features Lisa, a plain everywoman, with "Lisa is not an actor" on the bottom of the screen. This ad is fraudulent. Do you really think Lisa said, "Oh great pharmaceutical company, your drug is so wonderful, I will be happy to appear on national TV and tell everyone about it, and you don't have to pay me a dime!" Hell, no. I'm sure there is something in Lisa's contract that states "You Are Not An Actor," and Lisa signed it. There. See? She's NOT an actor.

Those are testimonials. And they're carefully crafted and directed... and they're fake.

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