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Your doctor has just given you the stunning news. You're suddenly one of millions of people with diabetes.

Then the doctor is off to another patient and you crave any information you can get about the disease.

Enter Time-Life, the $500 million book, record and tape empire that today is announcing plans for a new joint venture. Called Patient Education Media, it will market a line of specialized videos under the Time-Life Medical brand.

Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, 78, is chairman and will corral expertise from the medical community to help produce up to 75 half-hour videos that he will also host.

The idea sprang from J. Keith Green, a former Scali, McCabe, Sloves executive in New York and president of Tucker/Green, a product development company in Old Lyme, Conn. Mr. Green, who developed the KitchenVision TV-VCR for Thomson Consumer Electronics' GE brand (AA, July 4), is CEO of Patient Education Media.

"The No. 1 complaint of patients about physicians is `He doesn't tell me anything,"' Dr. Koop told Advertising Age. "What we want to do is give people information at the point of diagnosis."

The first 30 tapes, to be introduced to the consumer market in January 1996, will be sold through pharmacies for a suggested price of $19.95 and distributed in bulk to managed-care health providers for patient distribution.

Annual retail sales of $50 million are expected by 1998.

Pilot tapes to be completed next summer cover coronary artery disease, cataracts and osteoarthritis.

The idea of medical videos isn't new: Several drug companies distribute individual titles as adjuncts to treatments using their products.

But Mr. Green says Patient Education Media offers the first comprehensive, branded library of videos sold in stores.

Although one observer applauded the concept as a "great idea," he suggested doctors may be reluctant to support it.

"They're confronted with the reality of the medical profession, which says, `Let's not let commercialism get in the way of the doctor-patient relationship,"' said David Williams, a healthcare specialist and partner at the New England Consulting Group, Westport, Conn.

"We think doctors will recognize this as complementary to what they're doing, not competitive," Mr. Green said. "The object is to make the next and subsequent visits to the doctor more productive."

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