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Healthy Skepticism AdWatch

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


April 2004, Australia

Dialogue on Nexium (esomeprazole) from AstraZeneca

Correspondence between Healthy Skepticism and AstraZeneca regarding the advertising of Nexium.


Sir Tom McKillop
Chief Executive

Dear Sir Tom,

Healthy Skepticism Inc is an international organisation that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading drug promotion.

You may find some of the recent publications in major medical journals, that we contributed to, useful for evaluating the quality of our work.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

We launched AdWatch for Australian general practice last year.[6],[7]  AdWatch aims to illuminate the techniques used in drug advertising.  We will also use feedback from AdWatch participants as a basis for dialogue with the companies responsible for the advertisements, self-regulatory systems and the government regulatory agencies.

The first topic for AdWatch is the advertising of Nexium in Australia.

We have now had extensive consultation with some of your staff and with AdWatch participants.  AdWatch participants are a volunteer sample of health professionals who represent a range of views including a market segment of healthy skeptics that is becoming larger and more influential.  To the extent that the healthy skeptic’s market segment grows your company’s future will depend on learning how to respond to us.

Your company’s Nexium advertising targeting Australian GPs is open to the interpretation that Nexium 40mg is the best choice for all cases of gastro-oesophageal disease because of a clinically worthwhile effectiveness advantage (“Nexium 40mg offers greater healing power”).  However Nexium 40mg daily is not an appropriate treatment for most cases of gastro-oesophageal disease that are commonly seen by GPs because, for non-severe cases, it has no clinically worthwhile advantages and is more expensive.  Nexium 40mg may have a place for more severe disease but this is unclear because the evidence available is contradictory.[8],[9]

We hope that you will agree that if doctors have developed incorrect impressions about a drug as a result of your advertising then measures should be taken to correct those impressions.  Therefore we would like to work with your staff to develop a new set of advertisements that would run until surveys of doctors show that any mistaken beliefs have been corrected.

If you are willing to have your staff work with us then please let us know within two weeks.

Please find below links to the AdWatch new topic and feed back issues and the raw feedback from AdWatch participants who gave permission as well as correspondence with your staff.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Peter R Mansfield
Director, Healthy Skepticism Inc
Editor, Healthy Skepticism AdWatch

View/Hide Reply to AstraZeneca’s “Nexium experts” from the AdWatch team April 2004

View/Hide Response from AstraZeneca’s “Nexium experts” to AdWatch on Nexium December 2003

View/Hide Peter Mansfield to Paul Woods April 2004

View/Hide Paul Woods to Peter Mansfield December 2003

View/Hide Raw Feedback from AdWatch participants who gave permission

Feedback about AdWatch on Nexium December 2003

View/Hide Correspondence between Peter Mansfield (Healthy Skepticism) and Paul Woods and Mike Bull (AstraZeneca) July to November 2003

AdWatch on Nexium October 2003

Opportunity for further comment

Comments and suggestions are welcome from all visitors to this page:

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AdWatch (Australia)


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