Since Spring of this year Glaxo ran a series of direct-to-consumer print advertisements in magazines such as POZ, a monthly national magazine targeting people living with HIV/AIDS.
During the summer the AIDS Healthcare Foundation [AHF] began an aggressive advocacy effort criticizing GSK for the irresponsible marketing tactics it used in this campaign which led to unflattering news articles in the Wall Street Journal (August 25, 2008) and the Philadelphia Inquirer (August 29, 2008). AHF’s campaign begin last in late August and featured print ads in publications including the Washington Blade and the Village Voice. I highlighted this earlier this month on Seroxat Sufferers.
One ad featured [Click on Picture] a scenic photo of the sun setting over the ocean with what appear to be sailboats floating calmly in the distance. The tag, reads: “First Impressions…”. Upon turning the page, a close-up on the triangular boat sails reveals them to be the fins of sharks. The text on this page: “…Can Be Deceiving. Avoid hidden dangers from changing your HIV medicines.” And, opposite the shark fin image: “If you are thinking about switching your HIV medicine, make sure you know what you’re getting into.” Another similar ad, [Click on picture] with the same text, features a view of a lake, sand dunes, palm trees and fields. A turn of the page reveals a fierce looking lion hiding in the fields.
“AIDS drug advertising has a history of distorting the reality of AIDS treatment in order to generate sales. However, the GSK ads sank to a new low, and we are grateful that they have had the good sense to suspend this marketing campaign,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “These ads resort to blatantly exploiting patient fears in order to sell a product, while remaining unconcerned about the potential harm caused to patients who might be scared off treatment altogether, or going on a better course of treatment because of the threats implied by these ads. Frankly, we were disappointed that Poz magazine—a publication targeted to an HIV-positive population—would even run such inflammatory ads. This kind of underhanded negative advertising creates fear of HIV treatment in general, which could dissuade people from seeking treatment at all.”
Another victory for patient advocates. Bravo AHF.
*Hat Tip - The Truthman
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