In the opinion section of the New York Times on November 13, 2013, John D. Abramson and Rita F. Redberg submitted an editorial entitled “Don’t Give Patients More Statins.” In it, they respond to a new recommendation that doctors should prescribe more people a cholesterol reducing category of drugs known as statins. Abramson and Redberg counteract this news by asserting that change is not prompted by the goal of improving the well being of potential patients, but rather for financial motivations. In the article, the authors rely on the ethos of their facts and positions to build a logical argument effectively spun around the pathos that they are looking after their readers’ health.
However, as a pair of lecturers and academics at leading institutions in the country, the authors have a pre-established creditability with which to justify their interpretations. At the bottom of the article, Abramson is listed as a lecturer at Harvard and published author while Redberg is credited as a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco and editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (Abramson & Redberg). The very mention of Harvard conjures up the best and brightest in America and being a published author adds another level of credibility to his assertions about heart health. Additionally, as a practicing physician and editor of a national scholarly medical journal, Redberg has an additional level of creditability being a working professional. This combination of each individual’s ethos seems to target both elements of required elements needed to be a reliable source. The very method of publication also adds a level of implicit approval to their assertions. The article itself was published on November 13, 2013, a Thursday edition of the New York Times (Abramson & Redberg). The Times is one of the best known papers in the nation and thus requires an addition level of professionalism in order for the editors to include the writers in it. By using it as a platform for expressing their views, they gain another level of creditability as well exposure for their arguments.
Amidst all this logic and ethics, Abramson and Redberg attract their audience to their side through the pathos of fighting for the interests of the common person. In the fourth paragraph of the article, the authors go straight to this point by mentioning three strong concerns of the average person: “if statins actually offered meaningful protection from our No. 1 killer, heart disease; if they helped people live longer or better; and if they had minimal adverse side effects” (Abramson & Redberg). For most people, the main goals of medicine are its ability to extend and improve one’s quality of life. By denying and revealing the lack of a possibility of these elements, the authors become a confidant and ally looking out for the best interests of the reader. They then work further in this role through the use of phrases such as “perhaps more dangerous, statins provide false reassurances” (Abramson & Redberg). Automatically, the use of words such as dangerous and false reassurances triggers as a powerful, negative reaction to any news that follows those words. By serving as a watchdog and whistleblower for these negative moments, the authors then become protectors of the common people. Consequently, the authors solidify their position as a knowledgeable yet unbiased protector of the common, uninformed patient.
Through their editorial, Abramson and Redberg aim to warn their readers about the ulterior motives behind a possibly little known recommendation towards an increased prescription of a particular drug. By approaching the topic initially through a logical and intellectual vein based on their credentials and use of statistics, the authors gain a strong aura of credibility. However, even more important is their connection to the audience through an obvious logic and flashy vocabulary. Unfortunately, such a portrayal comes across slightly as fear mongering and overbearing. But in the case of such a little known decision making process in a major industry, the fear and watchfulness that Abramson and Redberg inspire is warranted.
Abramson, John D. and Rita F. Redberg. Editorial. “Don’t Give Patients More Statins.” New York Times 14 Nov 2013: A33. Web. 3 Mar 2014.