February 11th, 2009
A Birth Control Pill That Promised Too Much
By Natasha Singer
The New York Times
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals has just introduced a new $20 million advertising campaign for Yaz, the most popular birth control pill in the United States.
But the television ads, now running during prime-time shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and on cable networks, are not typical spots promoting the benefits of a prescription drug. Instead, they warn that nobody should take Yaz hoping that it will also cure pimples or premenstrual syndrome.
As part of an unusual crackdown on deceptive consumer drug advertising, the Food and Drug Administration and the attorneys general of 27 states have required Bayer to run these new ads to correct previous Yaz marketing.
Regulators say the ads overstated the drug’s ability to improve women’s moods and clear up acne, while playing down its potential health risks. Under a settlement with the states, Bayer agreed last Friday to spend at least $20 million on the campaign and for the next six years to submit all Yaz ads for federal screening before they appear.