November 13th, 2008

Lilly Promos Run Afoul of U.K. Watchdog

By Andrew Jack
Financial Times

Eli Lilly is to be reprimanded by the UK pharmaceutical industry watchdog for “unbalanced” promotion of its anti-erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, in violation of ethical rules.

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority has ruled that the US-based company “brought discredit” on the industry through a marketing campaign on television, the internet and in brochures in GP surgeries in the UK.

It said the company had presented information on its medicine that failed to cite the side-effects or risks, and in a way that would have encouraged patients to seek a prescription for Cialis.

The judgment, triggered by an FT article highlighting the campaign, is to be released shortly and has been accepted by Eli Lilly, which stopped using the criticised aspects of its campaign last month.

It concerned one of the most ambitious “disease awareness” campaigns so far conducted in the UK, funded by Eli Lilly as the manufacturer of Cialis. The “40 over 40” campaign claimed that 40 per cent of men aged over 40 had problems with erectile dysfunction, and provided treatment options, listed without the brand names on its website but including them in a brochure distributed for doctors’ waiting rooms.

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