Advertisements are biased. This is not a statement of ideology, but a statement of fact. They are neither public service announcements nor balanced debates. They exist solely to encourage the consumer to buy one product in preference to another. The importance of this is that, as clinicians, we often place ourselves apart from others when considering what influences our practice. On the one hand our training emphasises a combined approach of pharmacological, psychological, and social therapies, but on the other, it is only the pharmacological approach that has the ability to finance full-colour advertisements in learned journals. In 1982 the pharmaceutical industry spent £150 million on drug promotion in the UK (Medawar, 1984). We have attempted to take an objective view of drug advertisements by examining the words used in all advertisements that have appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry over the last 30 years.
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