The Lancet is On a Rip: At Least In Regards to Pharma and Marketing

Farhat Yaqub reviews “Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare” by Peter C. Gatzsche. Gatzsche points out that there are over 100,000 deaths per year in the US due to drugs, Rx drugs, and another 100,000 deaths due to error.

According to Gøtzsche, “we now suffer from two man-made epidemics, tobacco and prescription drugs, both of which are hugely lethal” and the norm for both industries is a “morally repugnant disregard for human lives”. Furthermore, Gøtzsche claims, the business model of the drug industry is “organised crime”.

Do I, does Gatzsche have your attention? In a word, harsh. In Yaqub’s review he quotes Gatzsche “just like street drug pushers.” referring to big pharma. 

Gatzsche is not a crazy tin foil hat wearing idiot. He worked for pharma as a rep, researcher in clinical trials, physician, lecturer and cofounded the Cochrane Collaboration.

Just take a minute to read the review. I am sure this book will become grist for the mill of attacks on pharma. 

And keeping with the theme Adrian Teal has an article is ever proper Lancet “Quacks and hacks: Georgian medicine and the power of advertising”. He looks at his work as an illustrator and specifically the world of healthcare. He is now writing and illustrating true stories for a spoof 18th-century tabloid “The Gin Lane Gazette”. He sets  this article up by noting there is nothing new under the sun. It seems he’s right.

Quacks were nicknamed “advertising professors”, and many of these hustlers rose to fame and fortune by using the media to their advantage.

I am about to retire my proud title of an AE Account Executive in a healthcare ad agency.

Quacks selling proprietary medicines frequently colluded with newspaper publishers, who not only ran the vendors’ advertisements in their pages, but often sold the remedies on the printers’ premises for a cut of the profits. Another ploy was the “puff”, which was ostensibly an article reporting impartially on the wondrous efficacy of a new drug, but which was actually a kind of “advertorial” paid for by the manufacturer of the remedy.

I read this and think about the Lancet and their publication of Autism and vaccination. Things haven’t changed.

In 1785, Ruspini launched his haemostatic styptic, and published his Concise Relation of the Effects of an Extraordinary Styptic Recently Discovered. One of his newspaper advertisements claimed that the styptic had stopped the bleeding of a sailor’s bullet wound: “[The ball] passed through the man’s cheek, dividing the Vena Jugularis on both sides, which bleeding was immediately stopped by the Styptic, when no other means could give relief. As a result, Sir John Borlase Warren…liberally ordered a quantity to be furnished to each Vessel of his Squadron, for the use of the Seamen, in difficult cases.” There was even a circle printed in the middle of the advertisement that showed the alarming diameter of the bullet.

I love this, showing the diameter of the bullet is such good graphic quality. 

Take a read you won’t be disappointed. 

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