Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part letter about fake news.

A similar anti-hype narrative applies to drug advertisement, whereby pharmaceutical companies through TV advertisements hound patients who know little or nothing of their illness other than possibly the name, and patients are encouraged to pressure their physician into prescribing the companies' drugs.

Therapeutic decisions are hopefully made by skilled, highly trained professionals, not advertising agencies who, like fake news, can produce a simple, one-sided approach to a very complex clinical situation. Usually these drugs are at a cost multiple times the alternative with little, if any advantage, and occasionally with side effects potentially more troubling and dangerous than the condition they are treating. 

Finally, no criticism of fake medical news would be complete without a local sweep. I have made no secret of my opinion that much medical care (excepting some surgical procedures) in the Philippines, is poor, inferior to U.S. standards and often dooms patients by having treatments that block the institution of proper care subsequently.

Despite Guam insurance companies having been notified repeatedly about the lack of proper care for many of these patients in the Philippines, they persist in their insistence that the care is excellent and preferentially send patients to these facilities.

The only reason for this, like the false narratives expounded by the ad agencies is commercial, is that the cost of care in Philippines is a fraction of that of U.S. care. And let's not forget the false chest-thumping of some local insurances and acute care facilities (e.g., hospitals, clinics), paradoxically some of the worst performers, about the extraordinary benefits of their coverage and delivery of care. 

Let's try and purge the fake news from medicine and put it back where the people once again can trust what they hear about their health and medical care. There is indeed concern for medical ethics proponents to feel concerned.


Dr. Sam Friedman is the medical director of the Cancer Center of Guam.

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