A six-figure deal between the Coca-Cola company and the American Academy of Family Physicians has patients and some doctors in an uproar.
The AP reports the soft drink (and water and juice, etc.) company has paid a sum in the six-figure range to fund a portion of the AAFP’s patient resource site, FamilyDoctor.org.
The site’s been updated by the AAFP with new colors, a new logo and high-def. videos. And now this: Coca-Cola’s payment to help cover education on soft drinks. If you’re thinking this sounds like letting the fox into the hen house, you’re not the only one. Critics haven’t pulled any punches, accusing Coca-Cola of “bribing” the AAFP, among other strong language. Long-standing members of the academy – the family physicians treating us and our kids – have quit.
But the AAFP’s own release regarding the partnership brings up an interesting issue. Said the AAFP public relations team, “The Consumer Alliance program also will create a new source of funding for AAFP, which, in recent years, has broadened its search for funding outside the pharmaceutical industry.”
So we’re mad that they’re getting money to possibly downplay the (very real) dangers of soda. But all along we’ve been accepting their opinions with Big Pharma feeding them cash? Because the “parents and kids” section of the site already features ads for Mucinex. The same section is brought to you by Optimum’s Triple Play Package (should we be promoting TV and Internet to kids instead of letting them go outside?) and Jet Dry dishwashing liquid.
Working in media, I’d prefer to see who is advertising right out front than wonder who might be funneling monies in the back door. Chances are you have less to worry about with the open door partnerships.
It’s a dangerous road for the AAFP to follow. It may be the only way to escape the clutches of Big Pharma, but somewhere, they’ll always have an angle.
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