I often write about drug marketing and the way big pharma operates. Regular readers will perhaps have picked up that I’m not a fan.
In Australia – see this post over at Seroxat Sufferers – Glaxo has used its ‘support’ of Comic Relief in recent years to help in its sales of Australian Seroxat – Aropax:
“…GlaxoSmithKline, whose campaign of support for Comic Relief has some similarities to its advertising for one of Australia’s top-selling anti-depressant drugs.
“Love that Aropax smile,” reads a six-page fold-out ad that appeared in doctors’ news magazines at the end of last year. It is trimmed in bright orange and features a formerly depressed mother joking with an orange segment in her mouth, and her giggling, orange-clad daughter.
Earlier this year  the company took out ads in the same publications, touting its $200,000 donation to Comic Relief and announcing a fund-raising program in which its drug sales people would visit doctors dressed as clowns.
The notices bore no direct reference to Aropax, but nevertheless had an orange backdrop and they continued the smiling theme. “We’re dropping in to make you smile for a very worthy cause,” the company explained.
GlaxoSmithKline Australia’s commercial director, Lisa Bonadonna, said the Comic Relief sponsorship was not a promotion for Aropax. The similarity between the advertisements’ colours and copy was “completely unintentional”.
But doctors’ groups say they are increasingly concerned at the style and scale of drug companies’ marketing as they channel funds previously used to wine and dine the medical community into direct and indirect promotions.
So Glaxo make a contribution of what amounts to loose change for them and then they try and promote their product on the back of it. No connection.
Yeah, right Lisa.