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Moore's Sicko stirs controversy

Published on 13/06/07 at 09:46am

Michael Moore's latest film opens at cinemas this month and has predictably raised passions with its critical dissection of the US healthcare system.

Sicko takes aim at the problems faced by US citizens without healthcare insurance, asserting the healthcare system is highly flawed and dominated by the pharmaceutical industry and health insurers.

As Moore terms it, the film is a comedy about 45 million people with no healthcare in the richest country on earth.

Moore, whose previous films include Fahrenheit 9/11 and the Oscar-winning Bowling For Columbine, has already found himself in trouble with the US Treasury Department over the new film.

He was placed under investigation for scenes showing 9/11 clear-up personnel being taken to Cuba for treatment, thereby potentially breaking the US trade and travel embargo.

The film has unsurprisingly raised the industry's hackles, particularly those of US industry association the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Senior VP Ken Johnson said:" Michael Moore is a political activist with a track record for sensationalism. He has no intention of being fair and balanced.

"A review of America's healthcare system should be balanced, thoughtful and well-researched to pin down what works and what needs to be improved. You won't get that from Michael Moore."

He added that the industry was focusing on ways to improve and expand healthcare coverage in America through initiatives like the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which provides free or nearly free medicines for the poorer members of the community.

To challenge this kind of criticism, the film's producer The Weinstein Company (TWC) has assembled a heavyweight PR team that includes former Clinton White House staffer Chris Lehane.

Sarah Rothman, VP of corporate communications at TWC, told PR Week: "We are believers that the best [defence] is a good offence. As opposed to sitting back [in dealing with an] industry that is well known for prevaricating, distorting, and misleading in order to maintain its death grip over our society - we [will] take the fight to them."


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