Archive for June, 2011

Happy Father’s Day

June 18th, 2011

Back in 1970, Roche Laboratories was not afraid to call your dad a pussy.   Thanks to the Bonkers Institute, we have a copy of this Valium ad, which appeared in the Journal of Hospital and Community Psychiatry:

“Women dominate his universe; psychic tension can rule his life . . . domination by women has led to psychic tension. He doesn’t understand the source of his psychic tension. But you do. He relates well to women with domineering traits. But not to men. Not even his own son.”

Click image to enlarge


PharmedOut Dissenters: A Profile in Courage (part 2)

June 17th, 2011

Quiet!More from the brave, dissenting truth-tellers within the ranks at PharmedOut:

Dearest Ethicator,
I am so sorry to hear that we have offended you. Within our first few days as interns, we realized the mistake PharmedOut had made in overlooking your talents . We begged and pleaded to invite you to our conference. As you have assessed, the pressure that we are under from conference overlords proves to be an uphill battle. Even so, we thought the invitation had been sent out. I guess we expected too much from “the man.”

You’ll be pleased to know that “We want the Ethicator” protestors have already started camping out besides the conference location. The line rivals that outside of the Apple store when the new iPhone came out. What is it now, the 84X? Whatever. We are moved by the protesters’ determination. Their lining up skills might resemble that of those trying to acquire a very coveted object, but their camping skills and general hygiene seem more akin to attendees of Bonnaroo.

We hope that they do not line up in vain and that you will grace us with your Ethicating presence so the pleas of your fans do not go unnoticed.

We see that you have demands. However, the demands do not seem up to the standards we would like to give our most honored guest. We propose a different approach. Domestic first class is meaningless these days, without even the promise of synthetic and packaged “food” items. To make up for your having to travel by bus, we will provide you a golf cart for your transport during the conference. Moreover, the Watergate is packed with the scandal that accompanies the mostly retired. We propose that Dr. Carl Elliott be forced to allow you to sleep in his room. We imagine that the subliminal messages that you will whisper while he sleeps will force him to do terribly during his talk and regain some justice in the world.

An award would be distasteful, as it would not garner the attention that you deserve. We will provide a grand entrance for you, complete with glitter confetti and bowing fans. Perhaps we can even find someone to carry you into the auditorium. There is also a promise of a tour of Dr. Fugh-Berman’s “medicinal herb garden.” Need I say more?

And finally, bourbon. One of us is a southerner who knows that bourbon hardly tastes as good if you are drinking it without the company of people who truly know what a blessing a sip (or fifth) of Wild Turkey can be. Although we might not be able to provide the obligatory porch, we can assure you that you will find a bourbon lover within the crowd. Although we cannot provide you a name for obvious reasons, let’s just say this person cannot drink bourbon in DC without becoming terribly homesick. We do not think you will find a more true love than that.
We hope that these offers exceed your expectations. Do not fret. PharmedOut, in our mission to identify and counter inappropriate promotional practices, demands the best.

We hope that we have not overwhelmed you. Please reconsider coming to the conference. Your fans await you.

Thank you,
PharmedOut interns


PharmedOut Dissenters: A Profile in Courage (part 1)

June 17th, 2011

Freedom of SpeechAs you are surely aware by now, the extremists at Pharmed Out delivered a crushing blow to academic freedom at this week’s conference.  Snubbing the Ethicator, they brought Carl Elliott to spew his anti-pharma hatred unchallenged.  What you may not know, however,  is that a few brave and lonely voices of dissent emerged among the conference organizers, seeking to undo the damage done.  In the end, their efforts were no match for the Big Anti-Pharma forces controlling the event, but I feel compelled to repost here the courageous emails they sent me earlier this week.

Dear Mr. Elliott, B.

I hope this letter reaches you while you are seated comfortably on a giant squishy chair, listening to your favorite soundtracks, and not chained to a plastic folding chair in a cubicle somewhere arbitrarily chosen by your brother, the Other Elliott. There has been some rumor that you have not been formally invited to attend the PharmedOut conference that is being held in DC this coming week. This news has devastated me as I have been preparing to meet the Real Elliott, he with such brilliance and charisma, the mastermind. How could it be that The Ethicator would not show at such an event? It is my most sincere hope that you will come to this conference. Pretty please, with cherries on top, go to the conference! After all, B comes before C.


An Admirer

Dear Admirer,

Thank you for your courageous stand for academic freedom.  I can only imagine the pressure you must be feeling from your conference overlords, and I’m deeply moved by your steadfastness.   There should be more bioethicists like you.

As for my attending, I’m afraid the chances are now remote.  I can only encourage you to join the legions of protesters who are picketing the conference on my behalf.   It would take a lot to appease me at this point (first class flight, a room at the Watergate, and of course the usual bourbon and percocet, just for starters; an award would be nice, too).  Still, my fans have the right to hope, and to continue working for a better world.

Thank you for your heroism, and keep up the fight.

The Ethicator


Pharmed Out: The Drinks are On Carl

June 12th, 2011
White Coat Black Hat

Belly up to the bar!

OK, let’s say you’re putting together a big, fancy conference in Washington, DC next weekend, and you have a choice between two speakers.  One is an overpaid, mediocre author giving you the same-old same-old, still working desperately to bump his book into Amazon’s top 20,000. The other, a younger brother, is a fresh new face, known for speaking truth to power.  A viral hit among the younger, Internet-savvy demographic, he is now a major candidate for some prestigious ethics awards, including this one and this one.   Rumors still buzz about an appearance at next year’s DTC marketing conference.

So,  you’ve got a conference to put on and who do you choose:  The bold truth-teller, or your usual sycophant?

Well, guess.

Thanks for the snub, Pharmed Out.  You only make me stronger.



Self-promotion, Siblings

The Ethicator – Swept Up in Another Grassroots Movement

June 6th, 2011

Dorland Health People Awards
It seems your generosity has no limits.   A mere month after nominating your humble servant for the PharmaVoice 100, another mass, grassroots movement is under way.  This time, the prize is the Dorland Health People Awards, which as it turns out, has an ethicist category.  As the Editor in Chief herself has said:

Ethicists are an integral part of the healthcare field, making a profound difference and positively affecting individuals and improving quality of life across America. It takes an exceptional person to do what you do, as I can attest to from my years of clinical healthcare experience.

So there you have it.  The only barrier is the $290 admission fee, but since there are hundreds of you out there, the cost per person should be peanuts.

No doubt, Carl Elliott and his raging band of anti-pharma thugs will try to scuttle this, just as he has always tried to squash my academic freedom at every turn; but this is your chance to beat the odds, fight back, and score that rare victory for Freedom.

The application deadline is this Friday, June 10.  You can get the details here.

My name:  The Ethicator
My organization:  White Coat, Black Hat website
My title:  CEO and Proprietor (pro-bono)

You are all heroes.  Thank you.

Got a moral issue you just can’t solve?  Send your questions to the Ethicator:

Advice Column, Ethicator