Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Roll-outs, familiarisation & subsidies - where have we heard this before?

After reading about the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP) displeasure at a certain drug manufacturer for rolling out their latest drug whilst simultaneously pressuring government for subsidies, I couldn't help thinking: 'my, my, my, Big Corpa, how you don't change!'

Understandably, the College is really cranky over the questionable safety of a certain manufacturer's familiarisation program, and furiously warns against the introduction of this new product before 'appropriate guidelines, prescribing practices and monitoring infrastructure were in place.' Furthermore notwithstanding that government review of the product in question is not yet complete, the RACGP's ire has been further stoked by the fact that Big Pharma's familiarisation program has ensured that 25,000 patients have already received the product for free - talk about agressive promotion...and talk about sweetening your case for inclusion on the PBS!

Analagous to this tale of aggressive promotion is another time nearly 30 years ago when another member of Big Corpa was equally intent on rolling out similiar familiarisation programs for their product whilst pressurising governments for the sweetest nectar of all - legislation to mandate your product - oh, Big Helma, did you write the book?!!

Throughout the 1985 Bicycle Helmet Safety Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport Safety the government of the day was equally pressured as our beleagured government today into not only rolling out and subsidising the helmet product but making it law as well - high five for helmet manufacturers!

You only have to take a peek at paragraph 184 where the committee pointed out that 'without a reasonable level of voluntary use, the legislation would be impossible to police and would fall into disrepute' and then para 185 where they chat about 'rebate, bulk-purchase and other schemes to minimise the cost of helmets are important tools in minimising the regressive effects of universal helmet usage.'

They continue chummily in para 189 noting that 'usage rates should be regularly monitored to assist in program development and assess community readiness for universal wearing legislation. Given the differences that currently exist this may have to be on a state by state basis.'

...& by para 190 the Committee were in a position to wisely recommend that 'the Minister for Transport seek the cooperation of the States and Territories through ATAC to:
(a) develop effective bicycle helmet promotion campaigns, with the objective of achieving universal bicycle helmet wearing,.
(b) regularly monitor helmet usage
(c) review the benefits of bicycle helmet wearing* twelve months after the mandatory bicycle helmet standard is introduced, and unless there are persuasive arguments to the contrary introduce compulsory wearing of helmets by cyclists on roads and other public places, and
(d) provide an exemption, if required, to (c) above for
riders in organised road cycling races'

Well as we all know the rest is history because six years later in 1991 Big Helma got their way with the legislated roll out of their product. Years of smoozing governments et anors had paid off, and Big Helma confidently led Australians into a public health debacle that nowhere else in the world was to ever comprehend (quick little caveat: apart from the Kiwis). Despite all the commentary and evidence that the rest of world relies upon, Australian politicians resolutely refuse to acknowledge that that not only have Australian mandatory bicycle helmet laws been a disaster for Australian cycling levels but for Australian cycling safety too.

Still least today's particular body of doctors, the Royal Australian College of General Practioners (RACGP), isn't being hoodwinked by 'Big Corpa practice' unlike the relevant body of doctors back then, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). They were instrumental in the bid for legislation to mandate Big Helma's product, and recognising the community caché that the RACS attracted, Big Helma was only too happy to welcome them on board the Big Ship "Roll-outs- Subsidies-&-Familiarisations" - ship ahoy!


  1. Their tactics haven't changed, only now, knowing Australians are gullible they are moving onto a new helmet product , the ski helmet. Last winter my 15 year old daughter was offered a free ski helmet with her ski hire; my four year old grandson was given a free 'colouring book' with a big helmet and some badly drawn mountains on the front. He was asked to finish the drawing with a snowman, to be eligible for a prize. There was no option of entering without the big helmet in the drawing. Inside the 'colouring book' was a crossword with a 6 letter word beginning with 'H' and the clue "something I need in the snow". For the first time I saw bored looking teenage school children being taken on a cross country expedition with big heavy helmets and flouro vests. I doubt they will take up the sport voluntarily.

  2. "oh, Big Helma, did you write the book?!!"

    Naaaaaah! That would be Big Edu.

    1. hmmmmn, kfg, you have a point - they're definitely sickening too - sigh