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This advertisement is promoting a drug for type 2 diabetes on the basis of a surrogate outcome assessed in unpublished trials, and as an off-label treatment for overweight and obesity.

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As an advertising man, I can assure you that advertising which does not work does not continue to run. If experience did not show beyond doubt that the great majority of doctors are splendidly responsive to current [prescription drug] advertising, new techniques would be devised in short order. And if, indeed, candor, accuracy, scientific completeness, and a permanent ban on cartoons came to be essential for the successful promotion of [prescription] drugs, advertising would have no choice but to comply.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963