Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Don't Worry Bayer, I'm Not Blogging This - Sexist, Award-Winning Ad. LOL!

Don't Worry Bayer, I'm Not Blogging This - Sexist, Award-Winning Ad. LOL! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

In a remarkable turn of events, Bayer has now distanced itself from a controversial Brazilian aspirin ad made by AlmapBBDO that won a bronze Lion in Cannes—and which caused a stir when it was accused of being sexist.


The client now says the agency had run the ad solely to win awards. In addition, Bayer says it will not allow the campaign to ever be used again.


In a statement to Adweek, Bayer acknowledged approving the ad, but said it ran only in "limited placement" in Brazil and that the company hasn't done any aspirin advertising in the country for "several years."


Bayer also said the agency, not the client, paid to run the ad. AlmapBBDO confirmed to Adweek. Thus, it appears the entry was targeted at Cannes judges and not consumers, which many in the industry might consider to be an example of "scam ads" that are crafted solely for the awards circuit.


"The concept was presented to our local marketing team in Brazil by BBDO as one of several campaigns that the agency intended to submit for this year's Cannes Lions festival," the Bayer statement said. "In order to meet the requirements for submission to Cannes, BBDO paid for limited placement in Brazil. Bayer has not advertised Aspirin through any channel in Brazil for several years. We have asked that BBDO discontinue any further use, dissemination or promotion of this campaign."


The controversy is troubling on many levels for industry leaders and clients alike.


Running ads in limited placement solely to make them eligible for awards is a well-known tactic that, in the modern advertising world at least, is generally seen as unethical and self-serving.


"Agencies should treat the awards show with integrity," Y&R global CEO David Sable told Adweek today when asked about the issue. "The truth of the matter is that every (agency) network has suffered at one time or another from this. There was a period of time when there were a lot of scam ads across all the networks. They didn't view them as scam ads, because their view was that creativity was still creativity, a great idea is a great idea."


The president of this year's Outdoor jury is Ricardo John, chief creative officer at J. Walter Thompson Brazil. Adweek reached out to John and asked why the Outdoor judges awarded this ad a Lion, and whether they thought it was provocative.


"We were very careful to remove any ad or campaign that was interpreted as sexist," John told Adweek in a statement. "The jury, which [included] seven women, did not feel that this campaign, when looked at as a whole, was offensive. Even so, as the jury president, I would like to apologize for those who took it as such."

Pharma Guy's insight:

I always said the Lions Health awards were BS. But not even I caught the sexism nor did I realize how such awards are manipulated by "creative" agencies for their own benefit! So much for advancing the cause of the drug industry through advertising!

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Is the FDA Sexist? Regulators Pressed to OK Drugs for Female Sex Problems

Is the FDA Sexist? Regulators Pressed to OK Drugs for Female Sex Problems | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |
Is the FDA guilty of gender bias? A coalition of consumer advocacy groups and drug makers recently launched an online campaign – complete with a petition – to pressure the FDA to approve more drugs to treat female sexual dysfunction. Called Even The Score, the crusade claims that there are more than two dozen drugs available to help men combat sexual problems, but none for women.

A key backer is Sprout Pharmaceuticals, a privately held drug maker that has been haggling with the FDA over approval of its flibanserin treatment. The drug was once owned by Boehringer Ingelheim, but later sold to Sprout after an FDA rejection. Last fall, the agency rejected the pill again and Sprout responded in December by taking the rare step of filing an appeal, even though such efforts often go nowhere.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Boehringer gave up on flibanserin -- so-called "Female Viagra" -- after the FDA refused to approve it for female sexual arousal disorder, also known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which is a relatively new diagnosis.

Recall that I blasted the trial data Boehringer submitted to the FDA before the FDA decision (see here). The data from that trial showed that women taking flibanserin experienced 0.8 more "satisfying sex acts" per month than did women taking a placebo. By the way, a "satisfying sex act" can include ... wait for it ... masturbation!

Now, Sprout Pharmaceuticals is trying to get this drug approved. Sprout claims that a NEW trial of 1,000 patients (Study 511.147) published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, resulted in "statistically significant improvements in the number of satisfying sexual events (SSEs), as well as increase in sexual desire when compared with placebo."

I don't have access to the data, but the description (here) of endpoints sounds very suspicious of data manipulation.

Read more about that here: Lack Sexual Desire? Try, Try Again!

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Woman's Health Expert Suggests Placebo Works "Almost As Well" as Flibanserin to Increase Sexual Desire in Women

Woman's Health Expert Suggests Placebo Works "Almost As Well" as Flibanserin to Increase Sexual Desire in Women | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

There's yet another pharmaceutical campaign on the offensive, hoping to convince women with sexual problems that a drug called Flibanserin will cure them. This compound is a central nervous system formula originally studied as a remedy for depression. As in the past, a massive and highly organized PR effort to create enthusiasm for Flibanserin is in high gear before the drug gets approved by the Food and Drug Administration. I witnessed this campaign firsthand at an FDA meeting in October.

Flibanserin was rejected by the FDA in 2009 when proposed by a Big Pharma company, Boehringer Ingleheim, and has been rejected twice recently when proposed by a newbie Little Pharma, aptly named Sprout Pharmaceuticals. Flibanserin has not been shown to have a significant effect relative to a placebo, and there are safety concerns about long-term effects.

Now here's the new twist. Sprout and its allies in the sexual medicine community are claiming the FDA is sexist for not approving this drug. There is a media campaign called Even the Score, bringing attention to the claim that men have sex drugs and women need gender equity for those drugs, too. They even recruited some national women's organizations to bring this argument to bear on the FDA and got some high-profile congresswomen to send a formal letter to the FDA officials demanding gender equity.

On Oct. 27, the FDA held a public meeting in Silver Spring, Md., and invited women to participate in telling their stories about their symptoms and existing methods they use to deal with the challenges. I signed up to be on the panel.

Imagine my surprise when a luxury late-model bus pulled up to the curb at the FDA hearing as I was arriving. About 40 women got off the bus, all wearing green scarves and big lapel buttons promoting their "women deserve" campaign. I later learned it was an all-expenses paid trip for them, complete with swag bags handed out when they exited the bus. By contrast, I arrived in a 10-year old car, ate a cereal bar for breakfast and lunch, and paid for my own budget hotel room.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Karen Hicks is an adjunct professor of women's health and human sexuality at Lehigh University. In the 1980s, she was the founder of the Dalkon Shield Information Network and subsequently wrote a book, "Surviving the Dalkon Shield IUD: Women vs. the Pharmaceutical Industry," about her experiences.

Ms. Hicks said "The clinical trials for Flibanserin excluded most women with some-22 different serious medical conditions and included only women who had been in a stable relationship for at least one year. The clinical trial results showed a very modest increase in satisfaction and inadequate outcomes on negative side effects." She proposed that the placebo in the trial should be used instead: "After all, in those clinical trials for Flibanserin, the placebo worked almost as well as the drug."

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