Search the Lounge


« The Perverse Statistics of Dying Law Schools | Main | Yale Seeks Director For Liman Program »

August 31, 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Michelle Meyer

That commercial plays incessantly in my market, too. It is annoying and it would certainly be more ethical for the ad to state clearly that they do not and cannot guarantee remission, cure, or anything else.

That said, I'm inclined to view the statements you point to as puffery, especially given the unfortunate ubiquity of "war on cancer" rhetoric and what one hopes is the widespread public understanding that MD Anderson does not have a magic cure for cancer that it has not shared with the rest of the world that guarantees its patients alone a 100% "success" rate. After all, most of the ad is future-oriented: "Cancer is going to lose and we are going to win," not (quite) "At MD Anderson, the cancer always loses and the patient always wins." The implicit message seems to be that they are *working* to "cure cancer" and their patients, relative to patients at most other cancer treatment facilities, have access to cutting-edge techniques that are part of that effort. That is probably more true than false.

On the third hand, this isn't the first time an eyebrow has been raised over MD Anderson's strategy to gain a national reputation, including its "Moon Shots Program" to cure cancer ( and its questionable ad placement alongside a badly hyped Time piece on curing cancer that touted MD Anderson (

And of course--to answer the question the title of your post raises--there are in fact ethical and legal limits of medical advertising (as I'm sure you know) that have been pretty clearly violated. For instance, Cancer Treatment Centers of America ran afoul of the FTC in representing in its marketing materials, without sufficient evidence, that certain "treatments" (e.g., whole body hypothermia) were proven (and approved) to successfully treat cancer where conventional therapies has failed.

CTCA has also been accused of touting "success" rates in its marketing materials that, among other things, are alleged to be largely due to its practice of cherry-picking patients and selectively reporting even their outcomes. See, e.g.,

More from an anonymous former CTCA employee about its marketing model:

Enrique Guerra Pujol

Puffery anyone?


To me, it is more of a positive thinking campaign.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad