Today Tonight: product promotion dressed as health news

Today Tonight Tomorrow’s Trash.

Our daily newspapers (and some medical papers/journals) are a collection of bad news and rubbish collated to sell advertising space. Today Tonight follows in this modern ‘journalistic’ tradition.

I suggest the following free therapy, for all arthritis sufferers, and the general public:

– turn off your TV (calories consumed in front of the TV seem to lead to greater weight gain, sitting is statistically bad for you)
– go for a walk (exercise is good for you, can lead to weight loss, less weight through joints improves arthritis symptoms, increased levels of fitness improve arthritis symptoms)
– repeat thrice daily (who needs willpower when you have habit?)

Enjoy this advice in good health!


Today TonightLast Friday on the Seven Network’s Today Tonight (TT), an episode on arthritis featured respected GP Dr Robert Menz, who gave a very solid interview – warning about the over-use of opioid medications, and promoting exercise and weight loss.

Dr Menz, speaking on behalf of the RACGP, would have known the TT episode’s byline – Are doctors over-prescribing pain killers for arthritis? – quite reasonably concluding the topic was worth comment. I am also a spokesperson for the RACGP (disclaimer: not at this very moment!) and also happily add my GP voice to various health issues.

However, what the good doctor didn’t know was that the whole episode was a thinly disguised advertorial for the products of two multinational companies, IBSA Biochimique and Bioceuticals (Blackmores).

In fact, virtually the entire footage besides Dr Menz’s interview was cut-and-pasted from two previous TT episodes promoting the exact same two arthritis pills.


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eHealth (MyHealthRecord) and Informed Consent

So we’ve moved to an opt-out system.

Could this happen here?

What other dangers are there?

Government’s reach has exceeded its grasp here. This is a white elephant which is unusable by members of the profession and which does not and will not deliver what the public expects. A clear fail.

Doctor's Bag


I had an interesting experience recently. I participated in a webinar organised by the Department of Health. It was supposed to be a consultation of GPs about the uptake of eHealth.

It went something like this: “We want to gain feedback from GPs about how we can get you to use the eHealth. This is how we’re going to do it; we’ve already organised training and we’re kicking off after the Christmas break. But before we start this session you must know that we cannot consider other options or timeframes.”

I was speechless. Literally – as I was not allowed to speak. I could only send little text messages via the closed online question platform. I was unable to see the feedback from other online participants.

Meaningful use?

For years health providers have repeated the same message over and over: if you want to make eHealth successful please take us with you.

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