Celebrating the Ethical Nag’s second anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to us!  Me and The Nag. Actually, one and the same.  Two short years ago today, I launched this baby sibling to my Heart Sisters blog.

My first post here was about how to read the extra-fine print at the bottom of scientific journal articles to see who’s paying for the positive results being reported in research studies. I’d already built up quite a head of steam over at Heart Sisters about what’s known as marketing-based medicine. I was on a roll, except the roll had almost nothing to do with my important focus of women and heart disease – our #1 killer. As a heart attack survivor who now takes a fistful of cardiac meds every day, I realized that I had no clue which of these drugs were being prescribed for me based on industry-influenced medical journal articles and tainted clinical research.  And worse – neither did my doctors.

Best to separate the sibs, I decided, so I could easily divide the emerging cardiology updates there and the marketing rants over here. Continue reading

Putting a positive spin on negative medical research results

As a person who’s worked in the field of public relations for decades, I can usually smell a spin a mile away. Take the classic Torches of Liberty parade in 1929 in which a crowd of women marched through Manhattan smoking Lucky Strike cigarettes. The spin? A Big Tobacco-funded women’s rights event that ‘proved’ women could be liberated enough to smoke in public – as long as they smoked Luckies.

Or the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty ads, featuring plus-size models shilling Dove’s skin creams. The spin? We’re beautiful just the way we are (except, of course, for all that ugly cellulite that Dove products can help us get rid of!)

According to a study presented at the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication in Vancouver, it seems Big Pharma has been equally busy doing its own creative spinning of its research results published in medical journals. Continue reading

Horse thieving, train robbing and medical ghostwriting

Reid train robber

"An important civic function held in his honor"

I know there are many of my colleagues working in the field of public relations who cringe at the word ‘spin’, as in:

“What kind of positive spin can we put on this horrible mess?”

I am not one of them. Spinning can be an elegant skill (particularly when it means providing clarifying information that might be unknown to your stakeholders) – and more so because it is done rather badly by most.

Consider the spin on this story about a snobbish American politician who was dismayed to learn that his great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for robbing trains and stealing horses in Montana. In fact, the only known photograph of Remus is this one showing him standing on the gallows in 1889.   Continue reading