WebMD is the second most visited health website, next to the National Institutes of Health. But is it a truly independent and objective online health information resource?
Like many web sites, WebMD makes money from advertising. An online depression screening test advertised in a WebMD TV commercial sponsored by drug company Eli Lilly directed viewers to Lilly’s antidepressant Cymbalta.
Although the tests are openly sponsored by Eli Lilly, Mercola.com founder Dr. Joseph Mercola asks, “How many people would automatically assume that this publicized test offered on one of the most visited health sites on the web would give them an entirely false result, perhaps designed to push even the most well-balanced individual into considering taking an antidepressant?”
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition (DSM-IV) is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association and covers all mental health disorders for both children and adults. DSIM-IV provides the basis for psychiatric diagnoses and lists nine possible symptoms of depression.
WebMD’s depression screening test lists 10 – the last one being “frequent headaches, stomach problems, muscle pain, or back problems.”
Cymbalta is marketed as an antidepressant that treats both depression and physical pain. In effect, the WebMD depression screening test is a “try Cymbalta test.”
Promoting Wealth Instead of Health
As shown by the online depression screening test, big pharmaceutical companies wield their influence on WebMD and other sites. These sites give you the illusion of an independent, objective third party that conveniently promotes drugs as the best answer to your health issues, Dr. Mercola points out.
Eli Lilly was one of WebMD’s original partners and investors, along with Microsoft, DuPont, News Corp, and Silicon Graphics. WebMD is also the first private company to become a partner of the FDA. For every ailment that WebMD presents, you get the corresponding pharmaceutical option that the FDA wants you to take. The safe, inexpensive alternatives and strategies that can help improve your health are ignored.
Is it possible for WebMD to be independent and objective if one of its investors is a major drug company and there’s government influence exerted?
Mercola.com has chosen the opposite path. Dr. Mercola promotes a limited number of well-researched and independently tested products that he personally uses and recommends in order to remain independent, unbiased, and free from advertisers’ demands.
Mercola.com is now the third most visited health website on the Internet and has been the world’s most visited natural health website for the last five years.