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Bone Marrow Registry Campaign Runs Afoul of AGs

Jeff Elliott, for HealthLeaders Media, December 29, 2010

Short-skirted models promote cars and beer, so why not bone marrow tests? At least that's what UMass Memorial Medical Center figured with its knockout marketing campaign that enticed mall and sporting event visitors in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to find out if they would be a good bone marrow donation candidates.

A good idea? With relative innocence, it helped increase numbers who were tested and potentially matched with a recipient in need, said healthcare marketing consultant Candace Quinn. She argued that it's not unlike a celebrity promoting any number of health-related causes or products, from blood donations to prescription drugs.

Attorneys general in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire weren't as thrilled with the healthcare organization's tactics. They are investigating whether or not UMass Memorial and the Caitlin Raymond International Registry—a respected blood donor bank—used "unfair and deceptive" practices when soliciting individuals for testing.

But we're actually now finding out that it wasn't the models, which UMass Memorial says it has stopped using, that turned the most heads. According to Boston Globe, major insurers in the northeast raised the red flag to significant increases in the number of bone marrow testing claims it was paying.

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