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Scott Kappes
Scott Kappes
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Chantix Makers Use “Unbranded” Ads to Reduce Side-Effect Talk

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As many may have heard over the past several months Pfizer’s
anti-smoking drug Chantix has been linked to serious side effects including
suicidal thought and suicidal behavior. When evidence of links began to grow
stronger Pfizer began to move away from its multi-billion dollar direct to consumer
advertising campaign and began to move toward more subtle “unbranded”
advertisements. This form of advertising allows pharmaceutical companies to
encourage curious consumers to visit their websites without ever mentioning the
side-effects associated with the medication.

Many argue “Unbranded product advertising” allows drug companies to circumvent the FDA’s advertising rules. Basically the way it works is, a company can market a website but cannot market the actual
medication that the website is devoted to. While this may not be as effective
at creating name recognition, it also does not require companies to mention
side-effects that may be associated with these medications.

In the case of Chantix marketers at Pfizer have developed a
campaign that encourages people who want to quit smoking to visit the website
mytimetoquit.com which offers readers chance to learn about a prescription treatment
option to help them quit smoking. If a curious consumer elects to follow to
learn more about this option they are directed to the main Chantix website.

According to a Pfizer this marketing technique is not
designed to work around the FDA’s strict advertising regulations, but rather to
encourage consumers who are thinking about quitting to talk to their healthcare
providers about available treatment options.

Of course the fact that they don’t have mention anything
about the possibly deadly side-effects associated with medication is merely a favorable
coincidence.