Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Drug-ad ban past expiry date

The linked article below is an opinion piece that argues in favour of changing the current advertising rules in Canada regarding prescription drugs. For those of you not familiar with these rules, it can be effectively summed up as following: A drug manufacturer can mention the name of their product in an ad, but can't mention its indicated use. Alternatively, they can place an ad promoting awareness of a medical condition as long as no drug product is mentioned.

These rules have forced advertisers to come up with commericals that bear little resemblance to those shown on American television. A prime example of mentioning a drug name but not the condition would be this Viagra commercial:

This ad works because everyone knows what Viagra is used for. Pfizer and their ad agency came up with a different approach when they wanted to promote Lipitor in Canada. In this case, they created the Making the Connection cholesterol awareness promotion. They were able to connect with their target audience with events like the Canadian Football League's Greatest QB/Receiver Connection while making no mention of a product.

While I admire the ingenuity of these ads, I think it's time to revisit the rules. The ads that mention the name only take advantage of the rules by not having to mention anything about the product, either good or bad. As a result, selling brand attitude without regard to any risks occurs. The worst example of this for me were the Alesse birth control pill ads. They simply sold a brand name in spots that resembled music videos with cool music and appealing actresses having fun then simply saying, "I'm on Alesse" with a big smile. There is no mention of what Alesse is, but the commercial ends showing a package of what is unmistakably birth control pills. The spots were clearly created with teenage girls in mind. There has to be a more upfront yet responsible way to allow drug companies to promote their products than this.

From the National Post:
Warning: Defective government policies can cause high blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and loss of both freedom and income. Nowhere is this more true than in Canadian socialized health care, and nowhere more bizarre than in regulations on prescription-drug advertising.

Let me explain. ...more

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