Monday, February 16, 2009

No More Fake Doctors on Medical Ads

This news is going to greatly affect the medical infomercials that seem to be on all day on just about every channel of Chinese TV.

From Reuters:

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has banned actors and other "non-accredited personnel" from playing medical experts in advertisements for drugs after an Internet-led witch-hunt exposed a number of bogus experts, state media reported on Monday.

A Chinese Internet user late last month exposed 12 fake experts selling medicine under various guises and names on television stations in eastern Shandong province, sparking an online uproar over false endorsements.

China's fair trade watchdog, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) vowed punishments after local hospitals and universities queued up to deny any affiliation to the "experts," local media reported.

Non-accredited personnel would be banned from such advertisements and other health programmes carried on television, Xinhua news agency said, citing a notice jointly issued by the SAIC, China's health ministry, the country's media regulator and two other drug quality watchdogs.

Read On
Although I have never played a medical expert on TV, a few of my friends have. (Having white skin gives one endless possibilities in China.)

About a year ago, a few of my friends were told they could make an easy 1,000RMB by simply showing up to a set, putting on a white lab coat, and speaking English into a camera. Their faces would also be on the ubiquitous medical infomercials which plague Chinese television. Of course they accepted the offer.

The first advertisement a couple of my friends participated in was for a nasal spray product. The infomercial was about fifteen minutes long, which then played on a continuous loop. My friends were probably on screen for a total of one minute each.

There was music and a Chinese guy talking over my friends' voices, but if you listened carefully you could hear what they were saying into the camera.

I remember Mike saying directly into the camera, "I'm pretending to be a doctor. I have no idea what I'm talking about. They are paying me lots of money to pretend to know what I'm talking about." This kind of stuff.

And then they had Richard sitting in front of a computer in his lab coat. The speaking part they used from him was him listing off different countries from around the world. During his part, pretty much all he was saying was "Canada, America, Korea, Denmark" very slowly.

The second commercial was one of my friends, Paul, talking about the benefits of erectile dysfunction pills. They dressed him up in a US Army uniform and had him sit on a panel discussing how the pills had worked for him. This commercial was hilarious.

Again, the creators of the ad asked him to just speak English into the camera. They didn't speak any English so he could say whatever he wanted. Paul had been screwed over by the school we were working for on his visa. So during his five minute or so free talk on the health benefits, he just talked trash about the school and the management of the school while talking directly into the camera.

Unfortunately, I don't have copies of these videos. I'm pretty sure a friend of mine in Xi'an still has a DVD of their performances. I'll see if I can find that DVD and put those videos onto YouTube. Would be really funny to see again.

Anyways, if my friends were to make this video now, the companies employing them would be reprimanded. That is OK, I suppose. It's not really fair at all to the gullible Chinese consumer to be lied to by either foreigners or Chinese pretending to be doctors.


Dr. Douglas said...

We guys are bombarded with impotence solutions on the internet everyday. Offering us the chance to be bigger, stronger, harder for longer, unfortunately, when you look more carefully only one of these 'miracle herbs' has actually been successfully clinically tested. A herb called Butea Superba has improved the sex lives of over 80% of all men that have taken it, previously unknown in the West as it is grown under Government license in the Far East. It is now available in pill form from and I can say that I am one of the 80% for whom it works.

andy said...

We need these uploaded on youtube...NEED.

s tsui said...

Re stevedouglas's comment: How appropriate!

Seriously, I nned to see those videos with unedited soundtrack... NEED.

Unknown said...

YouTube ... Please ... Must have on YouTube!! I too have heard the videos, and while knew they were bogus (they used to fake doctors in the US as well) I'd LOVE to try and hear what the 'docs' were actually saying!!!

Mark said...

I'm working on getting the DVD. My friend has it sitting somewhere in his apartment. He's on the case.

Once I get the DVD, I'll get these vids on YouTube! They're truly priceless!

Hopefully will get the vids up in the next couple days.

Mark said...

I'm having a bit of trouble getting this video...

A friend of mine thinks he took his copy to England last year. He's going home in a couple weeks and will see if he can find it when he gets back to England.

I really hope he can find it.