Online dangers advert cleared after complaints
A drug company advert highlighting the dangers of buying drugs from unauthorised internet pharmacies has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The hard-hitting ad by Pfizer, the manufacturers of Viagra, shows a man puking up a rat to make the point that some counterfeit medicines contain dangerous ingredients such as rat poison.
The cinema ad attracted 63 complaints. Most felt is was 'unduly distressing', 12 said it was 'offensive', seven said it was 'misleading' and three thought it could disturb those taking legal medcines containing dangerous ingredients.
The ASA rejected complaints on all grounds. The ASA noted 'the ad was intended to raise awareness of a serious issue and was designed to be hard-hitting so as to achieve the desired impact'. The ad was only shown with 15 and 18 certificate films which the ASA 'considered sufficient to minimise the number of younger people who saw it'.
The ASA said the ad was not misleading. They 'understood some prescription medicines contained an ingredient that might also be used in rat poison' but 'considered that people were likely to realise that the aim of the ad was to raise awareness of the dangers of buying medicines from unregulated sources'.
The adjudication quotes the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA), which classified the advertisement in the 15 years and above category, saying they '... believed the intended social good of the ad justified its impact.'
MHF CEO Peter Baker said: 'The ASA's decision really is a victory for commonsense. This deliberately hard-hitting campaign was urgently needed to bring the significant risks of counterfeit drugs to public, and especially men's, attention. The ASA ruling totally vindicates the campaign and the Men's Health Forum's decision to support it.'
The Forum backs the campaign because self-diagnosis of some health problems can lead to serious conditions being overlooked with potentially fatal results.
'We're really pleased with the adjudication,' said Dr David Gillen, of Pfizer. 'We set out to inform the public about the very real and growing threat from counterfeit medicines. We certainly did not want to offend people, but the dangers of obtaining medicines from unregulated sources are very real and we needed to forcefully communicate that message.'
The ASA adjudication comes just one week after a survey of 423 doctors, by GP magazine, found that one in four had treated patients for side effects caused by medicines bought online.
The ad has now finished its cinema run but if you're wondering what all the fuss is about, check out the ad here.
Other related stories on malehealth:
- Feb 09: The link between erections and heart disease
- Jan 09: Self-medicating online can be dangerous
Page created on April 22nd, 2009
Page updated on January 16th, 2010