Consider those willing physicians hired by Big Tobacco decades ago to undertake research “proving” that cigarettes were not dangerous to our health. Back in 1969, for example, Post-Keyes-Gardner (the ad agency for tobacco giant Brown & Williamson) relied on the paid testimony of hired guns with the letters M.D. after their names for a new marketing campaign “to set aside in the minds of millions the false accusations that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer or other diseases.” (Handbook of Public Relations, Heath & Vasquez, 2004).
Such doctors represented a shocking departure in the public’s perception of the noble physician’s role, a shift away from the hospital or doctor’s office setting to the slightly unsavory world of physicians on the take from industry.
Why, many wondered, would doctors spend all those years struggling through medical school only to abandon the practice of medicine in such a distasteful fashion? Continue reading