Saturday, March 21, 2009

Colonoscopy Sweepstakes

I'm not making this up. I saw this on TV tonight.

It seems CBS Broadcasting has teamed with the advertising giant Marden-Kane, Inc. and Loews Regency Hotel to develop the CBS Cares Colonoscopy Sweepstakes open to 40-79 year olds. Yep, that's right: people under 50 are eligible, even though they should not be screened for colon cancer.

The website states:
"When the colonoscopy is about to begin, you'll be given drugs which will make you feel like you're at Woodstock... only without the music. If you start to believe that you actually are at Woodstock (for example, Dr. Miskovitz starts to look like Jimi Hendrix or you feel inclined to say "far out!" in response to questions), please report the side effect to Dr. Miskovitz or Jimi Hendrix (whomever you see first) immediately."
While sounding like I might have a cob up my... well, you know... I wonder, what in the world are they promoting? A free "high" or colon cancer screening? Is this how we discuss screening tests now? Where are the risks of colonsocopy and sedation discussed? How will the list of people who register for the "free" colonoscopy that don't win be used? I wonder, will they be targeted later by the posh Center for Specialty Care, with its origins in plastic surgery and where the colonscopy will presumably take place, for mailings about more testing?

We're not sure.

But we are told on CBS's website:
"If you post personal information in User Forums or on other publicly available areas of the Web Sites then you may receive unsolicited messages from third parties. Company cannot ensure the security of any information you post on publicly available areas of the Web Sites. Under no circumstances will we be liable in any way for any of Your Upload Information including, but not limited to, any errors or omissions in Your Upload Information, or for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of Your Upload Information."
"Your Upload Information will be treated as non-confidential and non-proprietary and we will not be liable for any use or disclosure to anyone, including but not limited to claimed intellectual property owners. When you upload Your Upload Information via the Web Sites, you irrevocably grant to Company, its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license containing, without limitation, all right, title and interest in Your Upload Information, including, without limitation, all patents, trademarks, service marks, trade names, trade identities, copyrights, trade secrets, logos, domain names, know-how, source code and object code, mask-work rights, inventions, moral rights, author's rights, algorithms, rights in packaging, goodwill and other intellectual property and proprietary rights whatsoever in Your Upload Information. You further agree that Company, its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners and the directors, officers, employees, licensees and other representatives of each of them will have the unfettered right throughout the universe, in perpetuity, without any credit or compensation to you, to use, reuse, modify, alter, display, archive, publish, sub-license, perform, reproduce, disclose, transmit, broadcast, post, sell, translate, create derivative works of, distribute and use for advertising, marketing, publicity and promotional purposes, any of Your Upload Information or portions of Your Upload Information, and your name, voice, likeness and other identifying information, in any form, media, software or technology of any kind now known or developed in the future for any purposes whatsoever including, without limitation, developing, manufacturing and marketing products using such Uploaded Information. You hereby waive any moral rights you may have in and to any of Your Upload Information, even if such material is altered or changed in a manner not agreeable to you. You agree and understand that Company, its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners are not obligated to use Your Upload Information submitted through the Web Sites or otherwise, and may alternatively choose to discard, and limit or block access to Your Uploaded Information without any liability whatsoever."
Now if these rules don't fly in the face of the privacy intent of HIPAA, I don't know what does. What's worse is this whole cute charade is being "supported and helped" by our own National Cancer Institute.

Here's the thing: CBS, through this sweepstake, is offering free health care to one lucky "winner." As such, shouldn't this media company be bound by HIPAA privacy laws, too? Does this campaign really have the patient's best interests at heart or is this really about driving more business to gastroenterologists? Finally, if cancer is found on the screening and the patient is uninsured, who will assume responsibility for ongoing treatment of the patient?

Oh, but we're not asking those questions...

... because that wouldn't be so funny.



Anonymous said...

Oh please ! get a life. Everything else in society is a reality show why not colonoscopy? Frankly, I couldn't care less that a gazillion assholes are willing to give up their deepest darkest secrets for a free test and night in a hotel. Who cares about HIPPA, are they telling entrants the ordeal of preparation for the test?  That's the real question. . . full (fool?) disclosure.  The real issue is that the majority of people are too shallow or uninformed to care that there may be more to an issue than what is discosed in a reality show.  So if this is what the public wants, who are we to complain?  Besides, consider the cross marketing options. . .hemorhoid bobbleheads and action figures. . . 

DrWes said...


I've got a life, thank you.

While your sophomoric take on this approach for marketing colonoscopy is entertaining, your point on the lack of full disclosure echos some of my sentiments. But why not take this a little farther, shall we?

How much did that ad agency cost? The website? How much will that "free trip" to New York, posh accomodations in a plastic surgery clinic, and limo rides to and from the clinic cost? How much do those commercials cost per second on the air? If CBS is giving this away "free," who pays these services' costs? Is it really free?

Our own National Cancer Institute (a division of the NIH) just got handed a portion of a juicy governmental "stimulus" package where we can rest assured that that money will be spent wisely. Are these ad campaigns where taxpayers want their stimulus money spent when many can't afford their health care?

Yeah, it's just a cute ad campaign, complete with bimbos holding toy schnauzers in their lap. But when are we going to take the cost of health care (and the associated, over-the-top direct-to-consumer marketing) seriously for what it is: a HUGE waste of resources run by "hemmorrhoidal bobbleheads."

Unknown said...

I am one of the ones who registered for the CBS Screening out of pure desperation. I am like just about everyone else, unemployed and unisured. I am 40 yrs old and for the past 8 years have to have a Colonoscopy every year. Each time anywhere from 5 to 30 polyps are removed. I am now overdue for the test by 6 mo due to no insurance. If they are removed I dont have to worry about cancer, but if not, I will. I can take care of my own travel, I have sky miles saved from my previous employment. I just NEED the test ASAP. So if you can help me in anyway I would greatly appreciate it. My email is Thanks for your time. Sandy

Anonymous said...

I'm 54 and have a terrible family history of colon cancer as well as distressing symptoms (bleeding and others too gross to mention). I'm an airline pilot and I have worked for 4 different companies in the past 8 years. My health insurance for any "preventative" care has yet to catch up with me. I have tried in vain to get a colonoscopy without sedation (the standard in most countried except for the US) without success. I can't afford the time off and the risk of receiving controlled drugs as well as the well-documented memory damage that occurs with "conscious sedation". Every time I get an exam for my GI symptoms, a colonoscopy is suggested as "imperative"; then I report and request no sedation and they turn me away. Advertizing a free exam by touting the "benefits" of conscious sedation (probably with Versed-memory loss, a chemical straight jacket) is nothing that I would ever brag about. Colon cancer screening is in the stone age in this country.

Anonymous said...

Consenting to sedation with Versed may be the biggest mistake of your some research on this stuff and you will never agree to receive it.......Versed is an amnesia drug that is tailor-made for patient abuse....

Anonymous said...

Dr. Wes
First of all, I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon rectal cancer at the age of 26. Don't tell people to wait until they are 50 years old. I did not even have a history in my family! I think it is outrageous that we allow doctors and insurance companies to dictate our health care. If I am having symptoms and I am under the age of 50, don't you think that my insurance should cover the test and my doctor recommend it? We are not a cookie cutter society!