Tag Archives: advertising

Ruling has potential to impact patient care, advertising

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s John Fauber explains what a federal appeals court ruling this week might mean for patient care, television advertising and many other issues.

The case of United States vs. Alfred Caronia, a pharmaceutical company representative, “involved the right of commercial free speech, applying it to the complicated world of pharmaceutical industry promotion of prescription drugs.”

Caronia was prosecuted for making off-label promotional statements about Xyrem, a drug approved in 2002 to treat narcolepsy patients. He contended his statements were protected by the First Amendment, saying that the government couldn’t “prohibit or criminalize a drug company’s truthful, non-misleading off-label promotion to doctors.”

Fauber notes that “The appeals court essentially agreed, noting that Caronia never conspired to put false or deficient labeling on the drug.”

In his article, Fauber – no stranger to covering conflicts of interest in the medical industry – outlines the surprisingly far-reaching potential effect of the ruling – called a “watershed moment” by one source.

Sponsored links in health content expanding

Healthline Navigator, a product that places sponsored links within editorial health content, is rolling out on sites that include Yahoo Health, AOL Health, Ask.com and Everyday Health, according to MediaPost Communications.

You might remember that just a couple of weeks ago, AHCJ member Mary Knudson sparked discussion about sponsored links in editorial content after she quit a new blogging post with U.S. News & World Reports. Healthline Navigator is the product U.S. News used to generate those sponsored links.

The article, written by Mark Walsh, explains some background on how the ads work and how successful they appear to be, all information that health journalists should be aware of. Healthline claims the ads have a higher click-through rate than traditional banner ads. If that’s true, journalists may face Knudson’s dilemma more frequently.

Walsh says that such in-text ads have been “controversial for blurring the distinction between content and advertising and simply being overly intrusive and annoying” but also reports on recent scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration.

Some women’s magazines model poor baby care

Children’s National Medical Center researchers Dr. Rachel Moon and Brandi Joyner looked at pictures of sleeping babies in 28 magazines popular with women of childbearing age and found that, of the 391 unique images analyzed (230 of which were in advertisements), 122 showed sleeping babies and 99 showed infant sleeping environments (but not the infants themselves).

More than a third of the sleeping babies were shown in improper sleeping positions (side and prone) that violate American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations and increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Furthermore, two-thirds of the photographs portraying sleeping environments showed loose bedding and other objects and locations that violate the safety recommendations and, the report says, increase the risk of SIDS fivefold. In general, advertisements were more likely to include guideline-violating images than their editorial counterparts.

Hospitals add real patients to ad campaigns

Andrew Adam Newman reports in The New York Times on the state of hospital advertising, citing some specific cases to show that hospitals are moving away from traditional images like “caring” nurses, “skilled” doctors and cutting-edge equipment to real patients in ads.

Newman focused on the Akron Children’s Hospital, which is using actual patients facing raw medical uncertainty in a current campaign, and the unorthodox, catchy advertisements of New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Even hospitals, long considered recession-resistant, are feeling the economic pinch. But they are still placing ads. Total advertising spending by United States hospitals in 2008 was $1.23 billion, a slight increase over the previous year of $1.20 billion and more than twice as much as 2001, when hospitals spent $493 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence, a research unit of WPP.

The article even features the president of an advertising firm saying that advertising ratings, such as those from U.S. News & World Reports, can backfire:  “unless you’re the Mayo Clinic you have to hedge it – you say you’re the fifth for a certain category, but only in the last three years.”

State’s paid promotions appear to be newscasts

Tulsa World reporter Kim Archer found that the state of Oklahoma paid a media conglomerate $3 million in exchange for advertising of the state insurance program on two local TV affiliates, including spots that appear to be news segments.

David Griffin, president and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Griffin Communications LLC, said the company believes in transparency.

“We don’t sell the news. We never have, and we never will,” he said. “The spots that run match up to our commitment to Insure Oklahoma.”

Archer reported that the sponsorship agreement was disclosed on air, and quoted a news director who compared it to the relationship between newspapers and their advertisers.

The media spots, featuring former local television reporter Angela Buckelew, “blend seamlessly into the newscasts of KOTV and KWTV, with Buckelew acting as reporter and telling the individual stories of employees of small businesses who have benefited from the subsidized health insurance plan.”

“This kind of question arises when news media organizations try to diversify, when they are looking at more ways to make money,” said Joey Senat, associate professor of media law at Oklahoma State University. “It does create the potential for unethical behavior.”