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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16994

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Shankar R
Cervical cancer ad campaign shifted to FM Radio after DCGI's show cause notice to GSK 2009 Dec 31

Full text:

An ad campaign advocating medical consultation and treatment for cervical cancer continues to be aired in FM channels every hour in Mumbai by an organization. The ad announcement has carefully avoided the only two brands of cervical cancer vaccine marketed in the country by GSK and Merck.

Only last week, GSK was pulled up by Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for carrying a major ad campaign in leading national dailies on dangers of cervical cancer in young girls and women and its prevention. A show cause notice was issued to GSK by DCGI and the company undertook to withdraw ad from the media.

Interestingly, after running the ads in several national newspapers for almost a month, the GSK had given an assurance to the DCGI that it is unilaterally withdrawing the ads.

Meanwhile, when contacted DCGI Dr Surinder Singh expressed his ignorance about the awareness ads being aired in the FM Radio by either GSK or Merck after the show-cause notice to GSK last week.

“I am not aware of the ads being aired in the FM Radio by these companies after the show-cause notice. I have issued a show-cause notice against the GSK some days back and the company has been given 10 days time to explain. If they continue to give ads, I will think about the next line of action,” Dr Singh said. He also said that these kinds of incidents have been going on in the country for some time and it will take some time to make things to fall in line.

DCGI had issued a show-cause notice to the GSK last week for launching an advertisement blitzkrieg in the national media on cervical cancer vaccine without taking prior approval from the drug authorities.

In the show cause notice, the DCGI had asked the GSK to explain within 10 days the reasons for such an ad in the media, failing which the DCGI would proceed to take action against company. DCGI sources had indicated that the action includes withdrawal of licenses issued to the GSK’s cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, which the company had launched in the Indian market recently.

The DCGI notice to the GSK said that the GSK had violated Rule 106, Schedule J of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 under which the drug company cannot advertise any drugs. For launching the advertisements, the companies need to take prior permission from the DCGI and in the GSK’s case, no such permission was given by the DCGI.


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Email a Friend 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.