A patient group vehemently opposed celebrity advertising in medical services and urged the medical, dental, and Oriental medicine community to stop using celebrities in their marketing strategies.
“Some plastic surgery clinics tried to make celebrities appear in their advertisements recently,” the Korea Alliance of Patients Organization (KAPO) said in a statement Thursday.
If these acts infringe upon the rights of the health of patients and Korean people and disrupt a free competition among medical institutions, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is responsible for preventing them, it said.
KAPO argued that allowing celebrities to appear in ads for medical services will excessively promote cosmetic surgery and neglect excessive commercialization of healthcare.
According to KAPO, the government set up the “Medical Advertisement Prior Review System” for medical ads that significantly impact the health of patients and the public.
Under the system, the government entrusts prior review to the Korean Medical Association, the Association of Korean Medicine (AKM), and the Korean Dental Association (KDA).
Although the constitution stipulates freedom of expression and freedom of choice of profession, the law restricts some medical ads for the benefit of the public.
However, some medical associations have partially allowed celebrity branding, stirring controversy.
According to KAPO, the KMA bans celebrities from advertising medical products or services, but the AKM and the KDA allow medical ads using “simple images” of celebrities.
“This has remained a controversy whether their appearances in such medical ads were in breach of the Medical Service Act,” the patient group said.
KAPO pointed out that ads using simple images of celebrities were almost the same as medical ads using patients’ treatment experiences, which are prohibited by the law.
The government prohibits using patients’ treatment experiences as content for medical ads because some cases might be mistaken for a therapeutic effect, KAPO explained.
Celebrity ads will hamper the improvement of the medical delivery system, and patients will have to take those burdens, the patient group said.
“Medical costs continue to rise due to the population aging and the expansion of non-reimbursable medical services,” the KAPO went on to say. “If massive celebrity ad costs are added to medical costs, those burdens will be passed on to patients and the public.”
The group noted that only 5 percent of medical institutions run ads, and most other small institutions do not have enough money for ads.
“Patients are concentrated in large hospitals because of celebrity ads. If medical institutions’ competition becomes more intense, it will be difficult to set a desirable healthcare system,” it said.
Original posted at www.koreabiomed.com