Warping Facts (or Media Manipulation)

ABC’s MediaWatch have uncovered a sneaky bit of PR for Xenical which has been doing the rounds in the Australian media recently. A revealing snippet from the article is below:

Burson Marsteller denies there was any deception, though its press release didn’t reveal the connection between them, the taskforce, and the drug company. But when we called Healthy Weight Task Force chairman Dr Colin Kratzing he explained:

The task force was set up by Roche originally. The entire funding has come from Roche…
Colin Kratzing to Media Watch

In fact, Dr Kratzing and his colleagues approached Roche for the gig, when Xenical was still being trialed in America.

We were trying to sell them a support programme for Xenical, we knew it was coming out [to Australia]
Colin Kratzing to Media Watch

It doesn’t worry Kratzing that Roche then paid for his members and others to evaluate the fat fighting benefits of Xenical and its rivals.

We have all got professional standards, even if Roche is paying for it.
Colin Kratzing to Media Watch

Roche can’t advertise its products directly to the public, but they can make them news. With the help Burson-Marsteller, which put out a press release praising both the task force, and its splendid choice:

Health experts reveal the best way to lose weight this summer.

We have found that prescription treatments, such as Xenical, are most
likely to achieve the long-term results people are looking for in a safe
and effective way.

Healthy Weight Task Force Press Release

Well, they would say that wouldn’t they? The press release was lapped up and the taskforce provided talent for the media.

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