AIDS Healthcare Foundation Bans Pfizer Drug Reps

Underware
NEW YORK – The AIDS Healthcare Foundation banned all Pfizer drug reps from its 14 clinic facilities on Thursday because it believes Pfizer is promoting Viagra in a way that encourages irresponsible use of the drug among crystal meth users.
About 60 or so doctors will now be inaccessible to reps who want to promote any of Pfizer’s products, including blockbusters Lipitor and Celebrex, according to Foundation representative Ged Kenslea.
Crystal meth is a highly addictive illegal drug with speed-like qualities that drastically reduces the inhibitions of its users. Male meth users are rendered impotent by the drug even though their sexual desire is heightened. A combination of Viagra, meth, and lowered inhibition makes users more likely to place themselves in situations where they may contract HIV, the foundation believes.
The foundation in January filed a lawsuit against Pfizer in California state court alleging Pfizer has marketed Viagra in a “misleading” manner. Pfizer’s ads do not tout Viagra as a solution to the medical condition of erectile dysfunction, the suit claims, but rather as an enhancement to recreational sex.
For example, the suit claims, the Viagra Web site states, “Want to improve your sex life?” and urges readers to “Have the best experience,” according to the suit.
The foundation alleges that Pfizer has essentially stopped marketing Viagra for a legitimate medical condition suffered by older males and is actively promoting it to “normal healthy men” of younger ages for recreational reasons or for any occasion in which a man cannot achieve an erection—such as drug use or fatigue.
The foundation was particularly irked by a Viagra print ad run in late 2004, in which it claims the headline was, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?”
Said Kenslea: “Do you happen to have a medical condition erupt on New Year’s Eve? That’s not a help-seeking ad.”
The foundation claims that 32% of gay men with a median age of 32 have used Viagra; that 36% of gay Viagra users have combined it with illegal drugs; and that in “repeat HIV testers” Viagra users are more than twice as likely to test positive for HIV.
“Pfizer’s labeling does not warn of these risks,” the suit says.
Pfizer did not respond to an offer of comment by press time. Previously, the company has stated that it “has always been committed to safe and appropriate use of Viagra” and that the drug’s label states, “Viagra does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.”
Kenslea said Pfizer would not have been targeted if it had responded when the Foundation first began urging Pfizer to change its advertising a year ago. Eli Lilly’s Cialis and Bayer/GSK/Schering-Plough’s Levitra have not been targeted because those companies still market their pills as medical treatments, Kenslea said.
Pfizer’s Viagra marketing continues to be successful. The company’s fourth quarter 2006 statement shows that global Viagra revenue was up 5% to $450 million. It was up by the same proportion to $222 million in the U.S. alone, the company said.
from Brand Week


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