Tag Archives: advertising

Communicating drug risks in pharma marketing: A new FDA challenge

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

pill bottle label

Photo: Joel Rorabaugh via FreeImages.com

Many American consumers may not realize this, but only New Zealand and the United States are the only countries with strong pharmaceutical regulations in which direct-to-consumer advertising from pharma companies is allowed.

All those TV commercials and double-spread ads for prescription drugs – whether it’s for erectile dysfunction drugs or mental disorders or high blood pressure or some chronic condition – are missing from the media in most of the world.

The way such ads look and sound (including the usual mind-numbing text block tucked into a print ad detailing risks and potential side effects, or a hastily spoken voice-over toward the end of a commercial), may soon change. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is revising regulations governing how companies communicate risk to consumers. Continue reading

Journalists taken aback by AP’s tweets about pharmaceutical company

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Journalists on Twitter were surprised, even dismayed, on Tuesday when tweets from The Associated Press prompted followers to “Visit AstraZeneca’s YouTube channel.”

I asked Paul Colford, AP’s director of media relations, about the “Sponsored Tweets.” His response to me – and several others who had questions – is that this is nothing new and other news outlets are doing it, too.

The Associated Press began using “Sponsored Tweets” in January in conjunction with the International CES (consumer electronics show). The press release announcing the “innovative advertising” says the tweets would be provided by the advertiser and handled by staff outside the AP newsroom:

The AP developed internal guidelines in recent months so that it may build new business models in the new media landscape without compromising its newsroom values and principles.

A more in-depth piece on the Muck Rack blog about the venture provides further insight into why the AP is using them and how they are generated. In the post, Ken Detlet, the AP’s vice president of digital advertising, said “It’s a useful tool, when used tactfully, to promote meaningful content.”

We’ve gathered a sampling of reactions from journalists and we’re interested in hearing from our readers. Is labeling them as “Sponsored Tweets” enough? Do you think this will become more prevalent? What would be your reaction to seeing such tweets in your stream? Did you know that AP and other news organizations are including advertising in their tweets? Use the comment section to share your thoughts.

Saerom Yoo, a reporter at The Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore.:

Blythe Bernhard, a health and medical reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Will Yong, an associate producer with Al Jazeera’s “Listening Post:”

Annie Lowrey, an economic policy reporter for The New York Times:

Jane McManus, a sportswriter with ESPNNewYork.com and ESPNW:

Ben Popken, a writer and editor with NBC News:

Ruling has potential to impact patient care, advertising

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s John Fauber explains what a federal appeals court ruling this week might mean for patient care, television advertising and many other issues.

The case of United States vs. Alfred Caronia, a pharmaceutical company representative, “involved the right of commercial free speech, applying it to the complicated world of pharmaceutical industry promotion of prescription drugs.”

Caronia was prosecuted for making off-label promotional statements about Xyrem, a drug approved in 2002 to treat narcolepsy patients. He contended his statements were protected by the First Amendment, saying that the government couldn’t “prohibit or criminalize a drug company’s truthful, non-misleading off-label promotion to doctors.”

Fauber notes that “The appeals court essentially agreed, noting that Caronia never conspired to put false or deficient labeling on the drug.”

In his article, Fauber – no stranger to covering conflicts of interest in the medical industry – outlines the surprisingly far-reaching potential effect of the ruling – called a “watershed moment” by one source.

Sponsored links in health content expanding

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Healthline Navigator, a product that places sponsored links within editorial health content, is rolling out on sites that include Yahoo Health, AOL Health, Ask.com and Everyday Health, according to MediaPost Communications.

You might remember that just a couple of weeks ago, AHCJ member Mary Knudson sparked discussion about sponsored links in editorial content after she quit a new blogging post with U.S. News & World Reports. Healthline Navigator is the product U.S. News used to generate those sponsored links.

The article, written by Mark Walsh, explains some background on how the ads work and how successful they appear to be, all information that health journalists should be aware of. Healthline claims the ads have a higher click-through rate than traditional banner ads. If that’s true, journalists may face Knudson’s dilemma more frequently.

Walsh says that such in-text ads have been “controversial for blurring the distinction between content and advertising and simply being overly intrusive and annoying” but also reports on recent scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration.

Some women’s magazines model poor baby care

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Children’s National Medical Center researchers Dr. Rachel Moon and Brandi Joyner looked at pictures of sleeping babies in 28 magazines popular with women of childbearing age and found that, of the 391 unique images analyzed (230 of which were in advertisements), 122 showed sleeping babies and 99 showed infant sleeping environments (but not the infants themselves).

More than a third of the sleeping babies were shown in improper sleeping positions (side and prone) that violate American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations and increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Furthermore, two-thirds of the photographs portraying sleeping environments showed loose bedding and other objects and locations that violate the safety recommendations and, the report says, increase the risk of SIDS fivefold. In general, advertisements were more likely to include guideline-violating images than their editorial counterparts.

Hospitals add real patients to ad campaigns

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Andrew Adam Newman reports in The New York Times on the state of hospital advertising, citing some specific cases to show that hospitals are moving away from traditional images like “caring” nurses, “skilled” doctors and cutting-edge equipment to real patients in ads.

Newman focused on the Akron Children’s Hospital, which is using actual patients facing raw medical uncertainty in a current campaign, and the unorthodox, catchy advertisements of New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Even hospitals, long considered recession-resistant, are feeling the economic pinch. But they are still placing ads. Total advertising spending by United States hospitals in 2008 was $1.23 billion, a slight increase over the previous year of $1.20 billion and more than twice as much as 2001, when hospitals spent $493 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence, a research unit of WPP.

The article even features the president of an advertising firm saying that advertising ratings, such as those from U.S. News & World Reports, can backfire:  “unless you’re the Mayo Clinic you have to hedge it – you say you’re the fifth for a certain category, but only in the last three years.”