ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Medical Ethics


The editorial note 'Medical Ethics: Water War' (October 7) reminded me of the infamous decision of the American Medical Association (AMA) to enter into a trademark licensing agreement with Sunbeam Corporation (Sunbeam) for home health products (thermometers, heating pads, humidifiers and the like). The deal would potentially swell the coffers of the AMA by millions of dollars in exchange for allowing the AMA seal of approval to be stamped on various products without scientific evaluation. This reckless endorsement by the AMA was at the centre of public and professional scrutiny in 1997, the 150th anniversary year of the AMA. An organisation which has been entrusted with the onerous task to be the standard-bearer of strict medical ethics had thus abrogated its responsibility, fallen prey to crass commercial interests and entered into a money-making deal in gross violation of its mandate.

The furore amongst the members of the health profession and the public was quick and relentless. Irate physicians used all available fora to make their displeasure known. Long-term critics, who were already calling the AMA a conservative, reactionary organisation, out of touch with the average physician, were understandably outraged.

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