23 Jan: Even PhRMA can’t spin this

From O’Dwyer’s PR Blog: The Vytorin controversy is just icing on a (low cholesterol) cake for those upset with the barrage of drug advertising, and the promotion of “quasi diseases” by big pharmaceutical houses. It’s a safe bet the Congress is going to step up efforts to regulate the marketing practices of prescription drugs. Bart Stupak, chair of the Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee told the WSJ that is sick and tired on seeing “puffing, advertising based on untrue facts or facts that can’t be substantiated, medical, ethically or legally.” Ouch. Even the Rx industry’s trade group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is raising the white flag. Chief Billy Tauzin admits that some of the criticism of the industry…

23 Jan: Merck and Schering-Plough: partners in slime

Oh what fun it is to cover Big Pharma. First we get the Wall Street Journal crediting Peter Rost and BrandweekNRX for breaking an insider trading scandal at Schering-Plough. Then we get Merck and Schering-Plough pulling their popular “two sources of cholesterol” commercials from television because Vytorin apparently does not reduce the buildup of fatty plaque as claimed. As Media Orchard puts it, there are Two Ways to Get Egg on Your Face 1. You can crack one open. 2. You can be Merck CEO Richard Clark.

21 Jan: Ad Age: Drug companies are begging for heightened regulation

Double whammy for Big Pharma in Advertising Age today. First, a story headlined “Vytorin Ad Shame Taints Entire Marketing Industry” — an excerpt: Reports that [as] Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. kept under wraps for more than a year findings that Vytorin does not deliver results it spent more than $100 million advertising to consumers is much more than a PR disaster for the drug’s co-marketers. Coming on the heels of a New York Times story that Pfizer’s $2 billion drug Lyrica treats a condition, fibromyalgia, that a lot of doctors don’t think exists, the Vytorin news is fanning the flames of public mistrust for the $5 billion direct-to-consumer drug industry — and the ad business in general. “The…