AIDs group asks Pfizer to pull Viagra New Year's ad
CHICAGO, Dec 30 (Reuters) - A major AIDS advocacy and treatment group
on Friday asked drugmaker Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N: Quote, Profile,
Research) to pull advertisements encouraging use of the impotence pill
Viagra on New Year's Eve, blasting the ads as recklessly encouraging
recreational use of the drug.
"What are you doing on New Year's Eve?" a smiling gray-haired man asks
in a full-page advertisement that ran in the Wall Street Journal on
Thursday. The ad reads: "Fact: Viagra can help guys with all degrees
of erectile dysfunction -- from mild to severe."
The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation criticized the latest
print ads as promoting Viagra as a party drug and encouraging risky
"Not only does sending this reckless message contribute to the spread
of sexually transmitted diseases, but it is also part of a pattern of
irresponsible direct-to-consumer advertising by the drug industry,"
said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDs group, in a statement.
Pfizer representatives were not available for comment.
Drugmakers, including Pfizer, are facing increasing criticism for what
foes say is excessive promotion of their drugs. These critics say
marketing drugs beyond approved uses poses health risks and also
pushes up skyrocketing health-care costs.
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pushed Pfizer, the
world's largest pharmaceutical company, to withdraw a Viagra ad
inferring that men could recapture the vitality of their youth and
become a "wild thing" if they took Viagra.
In criticizing the "wild thing" ad, the FDA said the claim of a return
to a prior level of sexual desire is unproven and also noted that the
ad failed to mention why certain patients should not take Viagra.
Representatives for the FDA could not immediately be reached.
To be sure, in print below the picture in the Wall Street Journal ad,
Pfizer notes that Viagra users should "remember to protect yourself
and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases."