Nov 19 2011: Twenty-Three Photographic Medical Advertising Pages from M.D. Magazine (1967)

Back in July, I posted a gallery featuring a few selected images from selected issues of M.D. Magazine, a lavish publication aimed at doctors and financed (it would seem) largely by pharmaceutical advertising: major corporate concerns like Schering, Lilly, Pfizer and others drew on all the resources of Madison Avenue selling techniques (more usually seen pushing soft drinks, confectionary and white goods) to press their various brands of tranquilizer, contraceptive pill, antibiotic and respiratory drug onto a professional readership, a marriage of form and content that generated frequent cognitive dissonances.

Published in the later 1960s (1967 and 1968, to be precise) the magazines spanned two languages, Spanish and English, and perhaps foreshadow what might be expected here, should health become the fully for-profit enterprise some appear determined to create from a perfectly functional NHS over the coming years. It’s not that the design, imagery and typography of this half-century old American advertising might be bad that ought to concern us, but the exact opposite: that it’s so good, as much in these three further galleries, looking at graphic, general and (as here) photographic approaches to selling medicines, will readily attest.

We should also consider, perhaps – as Andrew Lansley and his colleagues press ahead with their damaging long-term reforms to the NHS as established in 1945, and developed since – both the corrosive effect that money has on impartiality (a difficult enough quality to foster at the best of times) and note, alongside this, that U.S. healthcare, while undoubtedly good at its best, is hugely expensive (both in tax spend and at point of use) when compared to British services, even as it covers far less of the general population to anything like its highest standards. Just a thought worth bearing in mind.

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