Faux Help

How would you like to be offered kind, objective assistance with a serious health issue, only to discover that

no smoking in the street #8607
Image by Nemo’s great uncle via Flickr

it’s actually an ad for a drug? And how about if that False Offer of Help actually meant that drug companies no longer provided the required warnings about serious side effects and contraindications? Well that’s what’s been happening for a while now – with  ads that masquerade as public service messages – but turn out to actually be drug advertising.

For those of us in the business of public service, it’s even more infuriating, because these pseudo-help messages undermine every genuine public service message out there.

Shame, shame – this latest pharmo-sleaze just reeks of heaps o’ bad karma.

Consumer’s Reports’ Health AdWatch weighed in recently with an excellent review of this issue, reminding all of us that some offers of “help” are actually self-serving…deceit. We here at Doc Gurley weighed in on this same issue (ahem, truth-in-advertising-warning coming up: actually we were outraged by this approach) several months ago with the post titled Dare Not Speak Its Name, but a refresher course in awareness is a good thing, so we’re stirring it up again. Consumer’s Reports Health section also provides a really nice, tidy round-up of reliable sources to keep as your go-to site to fan those stop-smoking urges, or to try some totally safe cognitive behavioral therapy for your insomnia. Bottom line: don’t get discouraged if you’re looking for help. But know the source of the info you’re getting! The old take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt approach may save you from a pound of contraindicated Chantix/Ambien/[Don’t Name Future Drug Here].

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