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XMFHelical (< 20)

FluFlix - Disturbing Trend



May 07, 2008 – Comments (2) | RELATED TICKERS: NVS , GOOGL


As many pharma followers know, the FDA began allowing direct-to-consumer advertising a few years back.  This has been a boon to pharma companies and largely driven sales of some top drugs like Nexium and Cialis.

But the agency is very careful about what can and can't be said in these ads, hence you get ads that effectively say nothing, especially nothing about what the drug is even intended for (make no claim and it can't be questioned) and still carry some well-mocked disclaimers (oily discharge anyone?).  Well, no one should be surprised that the pharma industry seems to have found a way around all these stringent regulations regarding direct to consumer advertising.  Have YOU do it.

I was driving home last night and heard a pharma ad that honestly stunned me (and I didn't write it down - dagnabit : ).  It wasn't an ad for a drug or treatment - no, no, no.  It was an ad for a Youtube contest asking for submissions of homemade ads on a pharmaceutical product (don't remember which one and couldn't find it today).  Color me dumbfounded.  The agency (FDA) may exercise control on what the company might say about the drug, but can't do a thing about what you or I might say about it on Youtube.  Incredibly shrewd - but so teetering on unethical in my opinion.

And it turns out this isn't even new (double doumbfounded).  Novartis already did this with a Youtube contest called Fluflix.  User generated videos about the horrors of the flu and promoting flu shots.  They don't mention Novartis' Fluvirin flu shots directly, just promote getting flu shots. Here are some of the winning entries, and I don't doubt you can search Fluflix in youtube and find buckets of others.  Apparently this format allows one to play fast and loose with trademarks / copywrites as well, as evidenced by the Dr. Suess ripoff winning entry - something Novartis would never! be allowed to create itself.

The FDA, and Google by the way, should put the kibosh on this in my opinion.


2 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On May 07, 2008 at 2:21 PM, mindmuse (30.19) wrote:

I had not heard of this. The pharmas probably aren't going to want to have their fingerprints found on this. Maybe Google could quash it, but I don't see the FDA doing it - there's this 1st Amendment thing, ya know.

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#2) On May 07, 2008 at 2:37 PM, XMFHelical (< 20) wrote:


I agree that you can post anything you want on Youtube (pretty much).  But it is the 'company sponsored contest' that makes it cross the line IMO.  The company isn't creating the ads themselves, but directly encouraging it isn't kosher.

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