A Phone Complaint about a Little Radio Interview


Sometimes I volunteer to do health interviews for our small, community radio station – KGNU.  We’re a non-commercial station that usually doesn’t get much attention from large prestigious public relations firms.  So, I’ve saved the following phone message from 2008 – over two years ago, because it was so unusual.  You can LISTEN to that 2008 recorded message here.  (Note that I’ve potted down the sound to hide identifying information about the caller, and for listening pleasure, I’ve added some music from my friend Lynn Patrick)

THE PR LADY: Hey Shelley, my name is

The caller gave her name . . .

THE PR LADY: I’m calling from

She gave the name of a very prestigious public relations company

THE PR LADY: A public relations agency. We work with

She gave the name of a doctor we had interviewed just the day before at our little community radio station.  The way she said the doctor’s name made it sound as if the doctor had hired her PR firm, all by himself. If so, I could kind of imagine why that doctor might be unhappy with how “yesterday’s” interview had gone.  You see, that doctor had lavished praise on some medications that had a very controversial safety record, even back in 2008.  In contrast, there had been another doctor that we, the small, noncommercial radio station, had invited to be part of the conversation.  His name is Ron Rosedale, and during the interview, he had been very opposed to many of the medications that the PR lady’s doctor client had spoken very highly about.  That doctor might have been offended by Dr. Rosedale’s criticisms. Or, maybe I was being paranoid.  Maybe the lady from the prestigious PR firm, who was putting extra time into our little radio station, was calling to compliment our radio show.  Well, as you’ll soon find out, she didn’t compliment the show.  But, she also never mentioned that doctor that she “represented” ever again.  And my guess is that whatever she talked about the most gives a clue about who she really represented . . . and who also probably hired that other doctor.

THE PR LADY: I’m calling regarding yesterday’s interview on your show,  Just concerned about some of the comments that doctor Rosedale made that maybe some patients who were listening to your show may have heard some of his comments he made about Avandia and may stop taking their medication.


So, what do you think?  Was that phone message, back in 2008, really prompted by the doctor that the PR lady said she “represented” or a client with very deep pockets, for instance, Glaxo Smith Klein, who maybe, just maybe paid the PR firm AND the doctor to say nice things about its diabetes drug, Avandia?

Back in 2008, Ron Rosedale had been taking some risk by suggesting that people might be better off NOT taking Avandia.  But now, in 2010, a whole panel of the FDA and a Congressional Hearing have been looking at whether Avandia should be pulled off the market.  In other words, they’ve been very publicly discussing whether it does more harm than good.  So far, it’s still allowed on the market.  But the chance of banning it has come close.

THE PR LADY: I’m hoping you can give us a call back.  My number is

The PR representative of whoever real client really was gave me her phone number.

THE PR LADY: We’d just love to talk with you and see if there’s any possibility about just explaining that some of Dr. Rosedale’s comments were inaccurate.

Do you think that maybe, this PR person wanted our little radio station to give her undisclosed client the chance to discredit everything Ron Rosedale had said about Avandia?  And, I’m pretty sure this call really was all about Avandia, which is the only specific drug or medical issue mentioned at all in the next thing the PR lady said.  And count them.  She mentions Avandia three times.

THE PR LADY: For instance, he mentioned that two studies were stopped because of Avandia.  And that’s not actually true.  The studies weren’t stopped because Avandia was hurting people.  He referred to a meta-analysis, and those analyses were already conducted after the analysis was done, that’s when they did the review.  So no study was actually stopped because of Avandia.

Now, in addition to mentioning Avandia, a lot, the PR lady’s complaint was impressively crafted.  It meant that someone at that very busy, very prestigious PR firm had listened very closely our little noncommercial radio station the previous day.  So closely, they had finally found a very esoteric issue, which probably Dr. Rosedale did say somewhat inaccurately.  You see, one huge drug trial had been stopped around 2008, because of potential dangers with diabetes drugs.  But that trial, called ACCORD  had involved a combination of many drugs, not just Avandia.  So it wasn’t Avandia, specifically, that had stopped that trial.  So, in ways like that, the PR lady was correct.  What was more interesting to me as I listen to what she had said that day is that the PR lady had NOT asked for retractions against many, much more damning things Ron Rosedale had said about Avandia.  Could it be that he’d been too correct about those more awful things for her “client” to want to challenge them?

THE PR LADY: And then he also mentioned that Avandia kills people.  These are very strong statements that he made, and he couched them inaccurately.

But she didn’t say that Avandia doesn’t kill people.  So does it, or doesn’t it? Are doctors being helpful by prescribing this medication, or are they doing more harm to their patients than they’re doing that’s good.   In other words, have not just the drug Avandia, but also the doctors who have prescribed this drug, been harming patients? These very issues are being debated around the world today.

Here’s what the rest of that phone message from the PR lady had to say.

THE PR LADY: We’re hoping that on today’s show we could just have some type of statement made that no one should stop their medication.  Diabetes is a very serious problem and people shouldn’t stop their medication without talking with their doctor and creating a treatment plan that’s right for them.  So I’m hoping you can give us a call and talk a little bit further about it and make sure people listening to the show don’t do anything that could jeopardize their health. So give us a call back . . .

I think I did call back the PR lady.  And when she requested air time, or a retraction, we talked together at our noncommercial radio station then told her that we couldn’t let her have more air time unless both sides – her expert, and Dr. Rosedale, got a second chance to both speak about health and medication safety.  The PR firm didn’t pursue their request.  But as you can see, I did save that message from 2008.  So that’s my story, and now, I’m wondering whether you’d like to hear more from what Ron Rosedale says – Today, about Avandia.

If so, stay tuned next week, when we’ll get his latest explanations together and share them with you.