Posted by Gary Schwitzer in Business of health
I wish I had an ounce of entrepeneurial drive or know-how. If I did, I think I could easily get some free publicity from the Wall Street Journal’s website. Others have.
Two readers of this blog tipped me off to two recent news videos posted on the Wall Street Journal website. Both make some pretty extravagant health-related claims without discussing any of the evidence to back them up.
One was “Are Your Armpits Pretty?” I’m not kidding. It cited survey “data” showing that 93% of women think their armpits are unattractive. It discussed products that make claims of “clinical strength” but didn’t evaluate any of those claims. At least it acknowledged this could be creation of a problem that no one knew existed – much like dandruff or bad breath – for the benefit of product manufacturers.
Another video gave several minutes of free publicity to physician-author-entrepeneur Dr. Nicholas Perricone, who pushed “my program” throughout the 3-minute-plus video. Perricone was not challenged when he said that “eating fish gives us beautiful glowing skin” or that you can see the difference in the anti-aging process within 3 days.
The Wall Street Journal must really like Perricone. They recently had another story that bit on claims without evaluating any evidence. Excerpt:
“Brands like La Mer and Perricone MD apply a high-tech approach to engineering their unisex products, allocating much of their budget toward developing patented ingredients which they believe can slow, or in some cases reverse, the effects of aging. The investment pays off–purchases by men comprise approximately 20% of both La Mer’s and Perricone MD’s revenue without any special effort on their part to target male consumers.
Nicholas Perricone also identifies inflammation as the key issue in the fight against aging and cellular damage. His product line is rooted in the theory that low-grade inflammation, often at a microscopic level, is responsible in large part for increased degeneration of organ systems. Dr. Perricone doesn’t develop products specifically for men or women because, in his words, “the problems are the same. Health is health”–but he does distinguish between products’ potential benefits. In the case of his new antiaging cream, Acyl-Glutathione, Dr. Perricone describes its mechanism as “delivering the chief antioxidant to cells in a way that has never been done before. If you’re a man, secondary sexual characteristics will be emphasized, a squarer jaw, firmer skin”–all of which sounds good to me!”
Now THAT’s hard-nosed journalism!
ADDENDUM: A reader reminded me that it hasn’t always been this way at the Wall Street Journal. It wasn’t that long ago that the print edition even questioned Dr. Perricone’s claims on page one! As in:
“New Wrinkle — Hot at the Mall: Skin-Care Products From Physicians; ‘Cosmeceutical’ Creams Tap Antiaging Market; Questions About Claims; Dr. Perricone’s TV Specials” – Wall Street Journal. Nov 14, 2003. p. A.1
“Critics question the science behind some of Dr. Perricone’s claims and say it’s wrong for doctors to recommend products in which they have a financial stake. Dr. Perricone responds that his treatments are effective and that his own medical practice has all but closed. The criticisms haven’t stopped him from attracting a growing consumer following — and carving a deep new wrinkle into the $26 billion skin- care industry.”