Thursday, February 12, 2009

Birth Control Pill Adverts - Is Bayer Ethically Challenged?

Recently, the German drugmaker Bayer settled the incident over advertising of its blockbuster birth control pharma drug Yaz with a corrective $20 million national advertising. As the news made waves many opined that the episode only cements the reputation of the drugmaker as being the most ethically challenged pharma company around.

But is a single bad ad campaign enough to brand a manufacturer as ethically challenged?

The drug in question is in fact approved by the FDA as a birth control pill with a side benefit in treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and improving moderate acne. The problem lies not with the approved effects but with advertising, which has been considered in the FDAs warning letter as broadening the drugs indication, overstating its efficacy, while minimizing serious risks associated with the use of the drug.

The settlement aside, the question is whether the drugmaker is the only entity to run into problems because of advertising. Many advertisements day in and day out are questioned for making misleading claims for all sorts of products and services.

Also, just because an advertisement has been caught violating laws doesn't mean that those others who've violated but haven't been caught are angels. And this may be quite true within the medical industry, because critics suggest that the F.D.A. division that oversees drug promotion has a staff of only 52 people, who can't be expected to keep a tab on thousands of ad campaigns run by drug makers the year over.

While not being an advocate for any particular drug maker, I'd like to point out a just a few of the “ethical initiatives” by the so termed “ethically challenged” company.

Science and Education

Set up "BayLabs" as they're called at various sites in Germany. These laboratories allow schoolchildren to learn about chemistry and biology with carefully prepared experiments and learning programs.

Environment and Nature

In 2004 Bayer became the first private-sector company start a partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for involving the youth in caring for the environment. It's run over a dozen projects around the globe since then.

Health and Social Needs

As an aid to Asian tsunami victims the company provided both money and donations in kind with a total value of EUR 13 million (approx US$ 16.8 million).

You can find out more about the company from the Sustainability & Commitment section on their website.

Posts, Possibly of Interest

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FDA: Skin Numbing Products Can Be Life Threatening

Top 13 Tips To Prevent Common Cold!

Pee on Paper to Treat TB – Here's How?

The Stem Cell Debate - Is It Settled?

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