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Doctor, Please Just Don’t (Promote Vitamins)

Kate McCann MB writes that is an amazing privilege to be a physician, & that the trust placed in a physician – our collective integrity as a profession - isn’t something that any of us should lightly consider selling the highest bidder.

“I’m a PGY-2 and I have somewhat of a presence on social media. I was approached by a company that wants me to help them with their vitamins. I haven’t used them before and am hesitant about forming a relationship with them, and having them use my name, and degree. I do want to do more consulting, using my degree. I know I’m still a newbie, but I realize that the online space gives me that opportunity. Who out there has done this successfully? What’s needed?”

(original anonymous article can be read here)

 

My first thought reading this?  Please just don’t.

Nothing good has ever happened when a physician sold out their reputation, integrity, or professional opinion for sponsorship or money.

Some of the worse atrocities in modern medicine have been when doctors have sold out for either commercial profit or political populism.

When you endorse a supplement not subject to regulation by the FDA  – so not medically indicated or necessary – it really makes it harder for patients to listen to the own doctor when the subject comes up.

 

When you endorse a supplement not subject to regulation by the FDA – so not medically indicated or necessary – it really makes it harder for patients to listen to the own doctor when the subject comes up. Click To Tweet

 

That family doctor or specialist is over-stretched, running 30 minutes late, having to get the whole consultation done in 7 minutes of facetime without any glamorous headshots or endorsed Instagram account with 100K follows.

That doc has to point out to that patient that they need to make real changes to their diet and lifestyle, or perhaps start evidence-based treatments.

 

 

It makes it harder for your colleague to get across the essential hard truth:

There are no shortcuts to maintaining weight or better skin or avoiding hangovers.

That regulated and evidence-based treatments are safer and more effective.

As doctors, we go to work every day and advocate for and with our patients – and increasingly this includes helping patients sift through misleading health claims, medical misinformation, fad diets, celebrity endorsements, and “detox” trends.

 

Nothing good has ever happened when a physician sold out their reputation, integrity, or professional opinion for sponsorship or money. Click To Tweet

 

 

By adding a physician endorsement to such products,

you add to the growing – and dangerous – “doctors never agree” mantra that has dogged our profession throughout this pandemic as doctors looking for quick fame, lucrative endorsements, or populist political clout took to the media with fringe and unscientific rhetoric.

And it is not a philosophical or theoretical problem:  Real people have become ill, suffered, and even died from trusting celebrity endorsement of fake preventions or politically-motivated promotions of ineffective treatments.

 

That family doctor or specialist is over-stretched, running 30 minutes late, having to get the whole consultation done in 7 minutes of facetime without any glamorous headshots or endorsed Instagram account with 100K follows. Click To Tweet

 

It is an amazing privilege to be a physician.

The trust placed in a physician – our collective integrity as a profession – isn’t something that any of us should lightly consider selling the highest bidder.

Consider using your online platform in a way that honors our profession:  to inform, to educate, to build health awareness, to advocate for medical science, to offer an expert voice.

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