Friday Fun: The Placebo Journal

Dr. Doug Farrago is a board certified family practice physician in Maine who happens to publish my favorite medical journal, the Placebo Journal.

For the uninitiated, it might be fair to say that the Placebo Journal is sort of like The Onion, but all about medicine.

Here’s an example parody advertisement from PJ for the Drug Rep Piñata:

(This and other sample pages from PJ available here).

I met Dr. Farrago at the AMA Medical Communications Conference in April. He seems willing and able to mock anything or anyone, including himself, and he’s very funny.

How’d the Placebo Journal get started?

“About 9 years ago I was totally burned out. Things were getting to me. When I went to the office all the crying and whining was driving me crazy. Then I realized that the crying and whining was coming from me. What saved me was the stories my partners and I shared with each other. It made me realize I wasn’t alone. Ripping on all the absurdities that go on in health care didn’t hurt either.”

What are your richest sources for subjects to satirize?

Medicine is so chock full of bullshit. The shenanigans of the Medical Axis of Evil (lawyers, insurance companies, big Pharma) makes life too easy for me.

Have any of your targets ever come after you for criticizing or satirizing them?

Google “Cigna” and “Farrago” togetherDavid did Google “Cigna” and “Farrago” together. Click here.. Let’s just say parody holds up pretty well as a defense mechanism.

To what do you attribute the growth of the Placebo Journal? What need does it fill?

Everyone loves medicine. There is a reason that ER, House and Grey’s Anatomy are so popular. We all have been patients at one time or another so everyone can relate. My audience initially was just doctors but it has spread like a virus. There is a vaccine for it, by the way, but it is only about 40% effective and may cause autism.

Placebo Journal fills the need of humor for many people – especially physicians, the majority of which are socially retarded.

Dr. Farrago is branching out into other media, including video. Embedded below is a recent episode of Placebo Television (distributed via YouTube).

(Those reading via RSS may need to visit the site to vbiew embedded video above)

To keep on top of new episodes, subscribe to this feed.

He also has a blog and an email newsletter you can sign up for here.

Good news for academic medical librarians:
Dr. Farrago is looking to improve his exposure to medical students. He tells me that he wants to give some free, one-year subscriptions to libraries that’ll put the Placebo Journal out where medical students can see them. If you’re interested, leave a comment below and I’ll pass your email address on to Dr. Farrago.

Good news for everyone else:
Want a sample issue of the Placebo Journal so you can consider adding it to your serials budget? You can get one by clicking here.

Bonus: Dr. Farrago graciously gave me permission to post this sneak-preview of a page from the upcoming June edition of the Placebo Journal:

I think this is the first time I’ve actually recommended a non-free product or service on this blog. Let that inform your estimation of how much I enjoy the Placebo Journal. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Friday Fun: The Placebo Journal

  1. We have more than a few medical students who could use a pick-me-up like this. We’d love to be considered for a free trial subscription. Thanks so much for letting us know about the Placebo Journal. 🙂

  2. This looks fantastic! I requested a sample issue, and if it’s as good as the excerpts here, we’ll be subscribing. I’d love to hear about any other “medical humor” resources out there too.

  3. I just wanted to say thanks for posting about this resource. His blog and the videos are absolutely hilarious to read, for those of us who understand medical humor. I wish we could subscribe to the journal but we don’t even support a med school!