2. Warning letters with holiday stamps

The FDA is full of holiday cheer and to spread the love they sent two very special letters to Sanofi and Celgene. But these weren’t your typical happy holiday cards, unless you consider warning letters for misleading TV ads festive. We don’t, in case you’re thinking of sending us a present. Among the major health risks cited are how Sanofi’s Toujeo ad has fast-paced visuals that distract the consumer and how Celgene’s Otezla ad turns up the volume of the brass instrumental section as the narrator begins speaking three separate times. It’s Santa’s naughty list for these two. The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion wants these violations to cease, so it looks like the regulatory department will be working overtime during the holidays.

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5. Kard-#ad-shians

Social media is the wild west of the marketing world. Very little law/regulation and swift punishment for doing something wrong – i.e. Duchesnay and the social media queen, Kim Kardashian, whose Diclegis debacle intimidated the entire pharma industry from venturing into this space. Sure the FDA has set guidelines, but they make as much sense as why the Kardashians are famous to begin with. Pharma can’t ignore social media forever, though, and thanks to TruthInAdvertising.org, a door may have just been opened. Because of them, the whole Kardashian clan is now using “#ad” in all of their endorsements – adding more transparency to advertisements, which is what the FDA is really looking for. Still, good luck fitting all the benefits and risks of your product into 140 charact…

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2. Opioids: Please take with full disclosure

In an attempt to control the ever-increasing threat of opioid addiction in the United States, Pfizer and the city of Chicago have paired up to set a precedent for responsible opioid marketing and promotion. The pharmaceutical giant was fully on board with a code of conduct drawn up by Chicago, requiring them to disclose addiction risks and efficacy limitations in promotional material for their opioid brands. Sketchy opioid promotion has recently caught fire recently, with Purdue Pharma (the makers of OxyContin) taking the most heat; the company ultimately plead guilty to charges of misleading the public about OxyContin’s addictive properties. With a vast number of pharma companies producing opioid pain-killers, the hope is that the Chicago-Pfizer agreement will spearhead an industry-wide shift towards ethical advertising.

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3. Free lunch and I’m IN…

…declared thousands of doctors everywhere. Apparently that’s all it takes for US physicians to be swayed on some pretty important decisions. Conducted by JAMA, the industry-wide study found that pharma-sponsored meals bought for doctors during a drug promotion (averaging less than $20 a plate) resulted in significant prescription increases for the promoted drugs to Medicare Part D patients. Take Bystolic for instance, a popular betablocker. Compared to un-fed physicians, those who received meals over 4 or more days increased Bystolic prescriptions by almost 14%. And you guessed it—more expensive meals, or more meals generally, means more prescriptions. To give context to these findings, industry-sponsored meals account for about 80% of all dollars in industry payments to physicians. Alternative explanations?

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