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Bad Medical Marketing: An Ad The FDA Should Pull

If ever a medical device company crossed a line with their marketing, this one has. Essure, which makes a sterilization device for women, is trying to scare men away from vasectomy in order to drive women to use their device.

“We made men watch footage of an actual vasectomy,” says the female voiceover — and then they proceed to show men’s reactions to watching a surgical procedure, with “That’s frickin’ gross, man” being the most memorable quote. The final tagline: “You can only wait so long for him to man up.” Yeah, and to be sure he doesn’t, they’ve created this ad.

The ad is slimy, harmful, obnoxious, and just plain stupid. A couple’s decision as to which sterilization procedure is best for them should be one informed by real information, not frat-boy marketing.

How dare they? The FDA should pull this ad — now.

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Addendum: I just emailed the FDA at BadAd@fda.hhs.gov. Feel free to copy my message below and send your own email:

To the FDA,

I find this ad for Essure both inflammatory and unethical. I am incensed at the impact this ad could have on couples’ informed choices about sterilization. I ask that you mandate that the company who makes Essure immediately pull this ad, both from the Web and from any media outlet where it’s playing.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Medical Marketing: More Money Wasted

There was a series of ads on the radio awhile back that went something like this:

When Mrs. Willis had a stroke, her husband never slept alone. Her daughter never had to go dress shopping for the prom by herself. And her son didn’t have to sit out the Mother-Son dance at his wedding. Why? Because she came to Hospital A…and she didn’t die!

There’s another ad for one of the big downtown hospital’s cancer center (sorry, “advanced cancer center”):

Every cancer, every stage. Your life depends on it!

Let’s see: No one ever dies at Hospital A. And the big downtown cancer center can cure any cancer. That’s certainly what those ads would have you believe. Even the little local suburban hospitals have taken to advertising: Billboards around the neighborhoods, kiosks at the outlet malls, mainly pushing the lucrative stuff like cardiac care and bariatric surgery.

Every time I see this stuff, I can’t help but wonder how much it all must cost. And how much medical care could have been provided to the uninsured instead of enriching the ad execs and billboard owners who are already rolling in dough. Clearly there is still plenty of money to be made in the hospital business, because these people aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t spend this kind of money on marketing unless there was plenty more to be made from it. I believe it’s a little business concept known as “return on investment.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

Sugar Consumption: A “Deliciously Disgusting” Ad Campaign

New York City’s war on sugary soft drinks had to balance evidence-based medicine with a short, simple message that would go viral in the community. Going viral won, according to e-mails of internal discussions between the city’s health commissioner, his staff, and the ad agency that crafted the campaign. The statement that soda would cause a person to gain 10 pounds a year is contingent upon many factors, argued the staff, but the desire to produce a media message with impact overruled the details. One nutritionist called the campaign “deliciously disgusting.”

Chocolate may moderate HDL cholesterol in type 2 diabetics, according to the November issue of Diabetic Medicine. High polyphenol chocolate increased HDL cholesterol in diabetics without affecting weight, insulin resistance or glycemic control. Researchers enrolled 12 type 2 diabetics in a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind crossover study to 45 g chocolate with or without a high polyphenol content for eight weeks and then crossed over after a four-week washout period. HDL cholesterol increased with high polyphenol chocolate (1.16+/-0.08 vs. 1.26+/-0.08 mmol/l, P=0.05) with a decrease in the total cholesterol: HDL ratio (4.4+/-0.4 vs. 4.1+/-0.4 mmol/l, P=0.04). No changes were seen with the low polyphenol chocolate.

With Halloween, sugar will be on everyone’s mind (and in everyone’s stomachs). To find out how many calories and how much fat that pile of Halloween candy totals, try this interactive module. (New York Times, Diabetic Medicine, ABC Chanel 7 News-Denver)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

A Secret “Sign Of Aging”: International Disease Mongering

Just five days ago we wrote about an American journalist’s observations of medicalization of one problem sometimes observed after menopause: Vaginal atrophy.

Today we see that this disease-mongering trend has popped up in Australia as well. This should be no surprise. Such campaigns are usually led by multinational pharmaceutical companies and their advertising and public relations agencies.

What caught our eye was an article on a women’s health foundation website — a foundation that posts a pretty thin excuse for why it won’t tell you its source of funding. Its article on vaginal atrophy uses classic disease-mongering language:

Ask a woman over the age of 50 about the ‘signs of ag[e]ing’ and she’ll most likely lament about grey hairs, wrinkles and certain body parts having lost their youthful perkiness. What she probably won’t mention is that is that things are ageing “downstairs” too; up to 40% of postmenopausal women show signs of vaginal atrophy.”

The silent epidemic that no one talks about. The huge prevalence estimate — where does that 40 percent figure come from? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

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