If you are having trouble understanding the election

21 08 2010

Hat tip: Dave the Happy Singer

You can learn much from this video which offers a brief overview of recent politics and issues in Australia.

Yes. It is true. In Australia we choose our leader by dangling rancid meat and political portraits before a crocodile pit and hurl beer cans at those crocodiles.

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Reality Boats

20 08 2010

I sort of wish Get up would spend their funds putting non-partisan and worthy public education advertisements like this one on TV rather than random Abbott quotes.

(That said, this one was pretty good too)





Can they pull off the election?

20 08 2010

Real ad. Real political party.





Should that be “Xenu-phon”

18 11 2009

Scientology Australia have probably just added a new SP to their dossiers after Nick Xenophon’s scathing attack on the organisation early this morning (or late last night) – check out a video report over here.

Senator Xenophon said their correspondence [fro former church memebers] implicated the organisation in a range of crimes, including forced imprisonment, coerced abortions, embezzlement of church funds, physical violence, intimidation and blackmail.

In an effort to charm every divorcee in the country, Scientology released a statement that comments from ex-members are as reliable as that of an ex-spouse about a former partner. You see they mean all the emotional abuse and denial of care with love obviously.

Another charming response on this effort was on Ten’s 7pm Project which brought in theologian Rev Dr David Milligan who was supposed to illuminate the issue, but basically said Scientology can’t be that bad because Christianity (his religion) believes in some crazy stuff you find in a book too.

So close, yet so far… video embedded below, but you’ll have to skip to about 8:35 to get to the Scientology segment (the first story about a guy who goes 600km off course after a wrong turn is a bit amusing though).

Read the rest of this entry »





Insight into Australian medical marketing

9 06 2009

Insight on SBS ran a televised forum on medical marketing practices in Australia about a month ago, but I’ve only just caught up and watched it – it’s still available online. The forum involved proponents from within the industry, key watchdog figures, specialists, general practitioners, medical students and a few patients/consumers.

The key thing everyone seems to want is transparency – including the pharmaceutical industry, if only to appease public concerns.

funny pictures

Unregulated pharmaceutical advertising looks like this

It was good to see a discussion that focused well on the situation here in Australia (i.e. no direct-to-consumer advertising, subsidised universal healthcare, and a strict marketing code of conduct by an industry body enforced by an independent review panel). The best points I feel were made by the professor who pointed out that there is no problem with transparency, but why are we singling out the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry? Why are we not as concerned about the links the industry has to politicians, or pharmacists*, or the influence created by sponsorship of mining, agricultural, tourism and other industries on their respective providers?

No industry is as regulated and scrutinised as our medicines industry. Yet, it continues to be criticised as not doing enough. Sure, the system is by no means perfect, breaches occur – but they are pulled up on breaches, punished, and those breaches are publicised (and as the Pfizer representative said, that hurts their public  image much more than any fine). I would not like to silence the critics, as that is the only way we can improve this system. They made good points that I’ve already blogged about recently drug samples don’t help, and brand name reminders (no matter their value) influence doctors.

Some concerns though seem a bit silly. What is wrong with bringing doctors from overseas to talk about medical advances? And just as odd, what is wrong with a mere 3% of doctors being sponsored to go overseas to learn about medical advances? Do they think Australia should develop it’s medical knowledge in isolation from our neighbours and field leaders in the US and Europe?

And some were just based on pure inability to comprehend how industry works, or anti-industry sentiment. I’m sure one person brought up the low cost of medicine manufacturing per pill compared to per pill costs to the consumer (because that is the only cost the industry faces ever?).

Some things I would have liked to have seen discussed more (or at all):

  • Spokespersons from either medical education or advertising companies – the people who actually produce the marketing materials?
  • Education in university medical courses – are medical students in Australia trained to deal with industry?
  • Training given to industry representatives regarding the code of practice – why do breaches still occur if everyone knows the rules?
  • Those industry marketers not participating in the MA, who watches them?
  • More scrutiny on those outside of the industry – pharmacists, consumer products, CAM and others who make spurious health claims  and marketing incentives outside of regulatory bodies?
  • The ghost writing issue (this was probably avoided due to the legalities surrounding the Merck/Elsevier case, or SBS just didn’t know about it)

*The “chemists” the crusie ship guy were on about, were more than likely street-pharmacists, or even pharmacy assistants, regarding sales of alternative medicines, vitamins and/or consumer medicines – absolutely nothing to do with prescription medicines. I wonder if they’ll do a similar special with the Pharmacy Guild?





Naylor’s Law – You’re just like Big Tobacco

24 05 2009

I’m naming this after the lead in Thank You For Smoking. I couldn’t find reference to this particular phenomenom anywhere.

I saw it twice in one day.

Here. An ad for the hippie doco Food Inc. in reference to the processed foods/factory farming industry.

And Here. A passing reference to anti-alcohol campaigns on a Radio National show.

I also here it plenty of times from the anti-vax crowd.

The law is:

As a discussion on the health effects of a product for human consumption progresses, the probability that one side will bring up a comparison to the tobacco industry approaches 100%.

Should this be grounds for forfeture of the debate?

I can definitely see myself comparing the alcohol lobby to the cigarette lobby. A “cool”, addictive, mind-altering substance associated with a myriad of ill-health effects – hell, they even have the same occasional claims of health benefit (red wine for heart disease). I suppose the main difference is there isn’t such a thing as passive drinking (is there?)





Racist Nonsense

6 05 2009

Hatttip: Planet Irf