Friday, October 27, 2006

Netshine come-uppance for pharmaceutical

The PR industry is not having a good week. Its worst practices and the abominable practices of the clients it advises are being exposed all over the place. This time it is the pharmaceutical companies that are exposed with Blazing Netshine.

They are supposed to be grassroots organisations repre

senting the interests of people with serious diseases. But Drummond Rennie, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, believes that some patient groups are perilously close to becoming extensions of pharmaceutical companies' marketing departments. "There's a crisis here," he contends.

Rather than grassroots, the word Rennie uses to describe such organisations is "astroturf". Originating in the black arts of politics and public relations, astroturfing is the practice of disguising an orchestrated campaign as a spontaneous upwelling of public opinion.