Saturday, August 22, 2009


Dr. Andrew Weil has an interesting article at The Huffington Post entitled Should You Get Your Drug Information From An Actor? Dr. Weil makes a fair case against direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing but then goes off the rails at the end of the article when he recommends a government solution to this "problem". Not much of a surprise considering where the article is posted.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time getting my primary care physician to do anything he doesn't want to do. A few years ago I had a much worse than usual case of the flu and my doc basically said "What do you want me to do? You're sick. You have the flu, go home, force fluids and rest. And no I won't give you any antibiotics - they're over-prescribed as it is." Now how much luck do you think I would have getting him to give me a prescription for some medication I saw pitched on television? Not that I would even ask - that's why I go to him. He's my expert and if he thinks this test or that prescription is a good idea, we talk about it and then I do it. I hired him for his expertise because I don't even play a doctor on TV.

So if direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing works as well as Dr. Weil suggests there is something wrong with the medical profession and government intervention ain't going to fix it. Perhaps they should just let us self-diagnose, put vending machines in the waiting rooms and call it close enough.

But Dr. Weil's point about where and from whom we get our information is a very valid. I have repeatedly expressed the same concern in the political arena. In politics, everyone is allowed an opinion, no matter how illogical or uninformed it is. But when an opinion is given more crediance because it came from this actor or that musician we have a problem. For years I have been telling people "When I want the lastest information about geo-politics I consult the Dixie Chicks." I usually just get a blank stare.

Which leads me to the juxtaposition I found so interesting at The Huffington Post. Among their guest bloggers are Bill Maher (comedian), Larry Flint (pornographer) and Eve Ensler (playwright/actress). In addition, one of the most commented on posts was a video of Jon Stewart (comedian/news caster/comedian) and with whom I have a major problem - see here and here. I have to ask - how is this any different than Sally Fields hawking Boniva to the great unwashed? Especially if the readers are not very discerning? How does this elevate the discourse?

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