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Healthy Skepticism AdWatch (USA)

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

April 2010

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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October 2009

Amylin and Eli Lilly’s Byetta® (exenatide injection) for type 2 diabetes

This advertisement is promoting a drug for type 2 diabetes on the basis of a surrogate outcome assessed in unpublished trials, and as an off-label treatment for overweight and obesity.

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...to influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.