Synthetic phosphoethanolamine: The “cancer pill” and the role of users on YouTube
Author: Luís Amorim – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil
Eduardo Barreto Rosario
The end of the year 2015 was marked by the repercussion in the Brazilian media and abroad of the controversy surrounding Synthetic Phosphoethanolamine. Capsules with this substance were produced and supplied to cancer patients at the University of São Paulo, the most prominent University in Brazil, until an ordinance published by the institution prohibits the production and distribution of any drug for medicinal purposes that does not have an official registration. The press went on to report examples of cancer patients who sought in court the right to continue to receive and use the substance. These patients reported improvements and even remission of cancer attributed to the use of the Phosphoethanolamine. Several decisions of the court were granted determining the return of the distribution of the drug, despite the absence of official evidence of efficacy and safety issued by official bodies. The judicial and popular pressure also determined urgency in conducting official tests with the drug, financed by the Brazilian government. The objective of this work is to analyze how the controversy was portrayed on YouTube, the leading online video platform in the world. We searched the top 30 videos in the number of views for four keywords, in Portuguese: “Fosfoetanolamina”, “Pílula do Câncer”, “Chierice” and “Fosfo”, leading at a corpus of analysis of 95 videos. Our analysis shows the great relevance of “produsers”. Our data reveal the importance of user-generated content that outnumbered genre views that reflect professional-generated content: the total number of views of the 50 professional-generated content videos is 1,462,052, while the total number of views of the 45 user-generated content videos is 3,054,754. Another finding shows that the scientist is present in 66 videos, demonstrating the importance of this voice in the construction of the messages.
Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication