Skin-crawling example of attempts to buy health care news coverage

On the popular Romenesko media news blog, we learn of a company offering to pay journalists who republish the company’s news release.

Romenesko writes that the offer letter begins:

Dear Editor or Health Editor:

Would you consider running our press release as a win-win project? We will pay $100 for every Skin Care Patient who sees the press release in your newspaper and commits to our exclusive and effective process. We monitor each incoming patient and where they heard about us.

The letter goes on to promote the product’s alleged ability to “cure” a variety of skin disorders.

The editor in Virginia who forwarded this letter to Romenesko wrote:

“[I’d] be curious to see where this press release is run, given the inducement.”

I’d like to offer a $100 reward to anyone who can find an example of a news organization that publishes the news release.

But, alas, I can’t afford to pay the reward.

If only the public saw more of what special interests do to try to influence health news coverage….

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ivan Oransky

May 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Tell you what, Gary. I’ll fund your reward. I’ll donate $100 to AHCJ on behalf of the first person who finds this release somewhere.
Ivan Oransky
Executive Editor, Reuters Health
Treasurer, AHCJ

Larry Husten

May 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm

In response to Gary’s question on twitter whether this is the sleaziest PR pitch ever:
Not even close. As sleazy as this is, it has the virtue of being honest and extremely precise. We know exactly what we’re dealing with here. I wish the same was true for so many of the other PR pitches I get. I’ll take this one any day.

Frederik Joelving

May 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I’m at a loss for words… While I’d like to see Ivan hand over $100, I doubt it’s going to happen. Let’s see if I’m naive.
Frederik Joelving
Reporter, Reuters Health


May 9, 2011 at 10:08 am

It reads like one of those infamous “Nigerian scam” emails. I wonder if anyone has tried to call the phone number in the press release to see who answers.

The Ethicator

May 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm

You forgot to include the address of the people offering the inducement.
Hypothetically speaking, if a well-known bioethics thought leader were to post this on his own blog and then turn himself in, would you still offer the $100? Thank you.
The Ethicator