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GP succeeds in overturning advertising watchdog’s “gag” policy

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 22 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4327
  1. Henry Murphy
  1. 1London

A Glasgow GP who complained about the accuracy of a medical screening advertisement has overturned a policy of the UK advertising watchdog to keep the details of some of its cases confidential.

Margaret McCartney, who writes for the BMJ, has lodged a number of complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority since August 2011 about advertisements in newspapers and direct mail from Life Line Screening, a for-profit international company that since its inception in 1993 has screened over seven million people in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States with ultrasonography and electrocardiography.

The advertisements claimed that ultrasonography of the carotid arteries was “your quick and easy way to help prevent a stroke.” McCartney was concerned by the “dangerously misleading” claims that screening could “prevent” a stroke and offer “peace of mind.”

David Nicoll, a consultant neurologist in Birmingham, also complained …

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