Drugmakers Develop More Smart Ads Than Smart Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Recent drug advertising campaigns show that major drugmaker companies are spending more efforts on developing so called 'smart' advertisement techniques, than developing better and safer drugs. A brilliant example of such a practice is the TV ad promoting Pfizer's anti-smoking drug Chantix.

The ad appeared on NBC right at the time when it was covering Beijing Olympics. The ad was showing a woman who was telling about the problems she is having while quitting. The ad slightly promotes mytimetoquit.com and doesn't mention any drug name. The site itself contains a link to another site promoting Chantix.

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The ad comes in response to FDA's rule saying that if the ad doesn't mention drug name, it doesn't have to include adverse side effects associated with the drug. The mytimetoquit.com ad taking 60 seconds of EXPENSIVE TV time is actively promoting the siteā€¦ and no side effects mentioned. However, if the ad contains the name of the drug, it should take about the half of time to mention all complications, especially after the drug is linked to increased suicidal behavior, drowsiness and numerous accidents.

Similar ad campaigns are gaining popularity among pharmaceutical companies. For example, Sanofi-Aventis did a similar trick to promote silenceyourrooster.com, which was found to promote anti-insomnia pill Ambien. Overall, direct-to-consumer drug adds showed a 30% increase, especially during the time when Olympic games were running. This move by major drugmakers is being considered as a way of trying to circumvent FDA's rules and is making lawmakers to think of new improved rules.

On the drugmakers' side, the practice is not associated with anything illegal. They are saying that the TV ad campaigns are not aimed at promoting drugs, but at promoting disease awareness. Such drugs are aimed at encouraging patients to be aware of their condition and to discuss their health problems with doctors. However, it is important that patients also have to be aware of health risks associated with the drugs they take, and sooner or later such ads will be banned and drugmakers will have to disclose adverse side effects of those drugs made to provide treatment for those types of diseases.

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