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Healthy Skepticism AdWatch

AdWatch illuminates the logical, psychological and pharmacological techniques used in drug advertisements.

There are AdWatch issues about advertisements published in the following countries:

Australia Italy USA


The most recent AdWatch is:

April 2010, USA:
Wyeth’s Pristiq® (desvenlafaxine) for major depressive disorder
This advertisement misleadingly promotes a serotonin and noradrenalin reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant on the basis of not needing titration. The antidepressant is a metabolite of an established SNRI, which is approaching the end of its patent life in several countries. No evidence is provided of its effectiveness and safety relative to the established drug.
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All AdWatch issues:

2010 April, USA: Wyeth’s Pristiq® (desvenlafaxine) for major depressive disorder

2009 October, USA: Amylin and Eli Lilly’s Byetta® (exenatide injection) for type 2 diabetes

2009 September, Italy: Lescol (fluvastatin) from Novartis

2007 August, Australia: Criticism of Adwatch on Avandia (rosiglitazone)

2007 June, Australia: Celebrex (celecoxib) from Pfizer

2007 March, Australia: Avandia (rosiglitazone) from GlaxoSmithKline

2006 December, Italy: Avelox (moxafloxacin) from Bayer

2006 September, Australia: Efexor Tetrapack (venlafaxine) from Wyeth

2006 July, Australia: Lipidil (fenofibrate) from Solvay/Fournier

2006 April, Australia: Estelle-35ED (cyproterone-oestradiol) from Douglas

2004 August, Australia: Feedback on Micardis Plus (telmisartan plus hydrochlorothiazide) from Boehringer Ingelheim

2004 June, Australia: Micardis Plus (telmisartan plus hydrochlorothiazide) from Boehringer Ingelheim

2004 April, Australia: Dialogue on Nexium (esomeprazole) from AstraZeneca

2004 March, Australia: Feedback on Augmentin (amoxicillin with potassium clavulanate) from GlaxoSmithKline

2004 February, Australia: Augmentin (amoxicillin with potassium clavulanate) from GlaxoSmithKline

2003 December, Australia: Feedback on Nexium (esomeprazole) from AstraZeneca

2003 October, Australia: Nexium (esomeprazole) from AstraZeneca


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963