Advertising regulator clears ‘dead rat’ cinema ad

pharmafile | May 11, 2009 | News story | Sales and Marketing counterfeits 

Pfizer's hard-hitting advert about the dangers of using counterfeit medicines did not breach advertising regulations, according to the Advertising Standards Authority.

The regulator has ruled the 'dead rat' imagery in the advert was justified and that it did not cause fear or distress without good reason and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ASA received 63 complaints about the advert – which showed a man coughing-up a dead rat – after it ran in cinemas across the UK for three months.

Ian Hunter, head of pharmacy for Pfizer UK, said: "We're really pleased the ASA has confirmed the status of the Pfizer rat advert, which has provided pharmacists with a valuable tool to help educate patients.

"We're aware of a number of discussions between pharmacists and members of the public discussing the advert and its implications," he added.

"From the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to the smallest high street pharmacy, we've been working with pharmacists to try and put the counterfeit medicines problem on the agenda."

Research commissioned by Pfizer found that more than 330,000 men in the UK are likely to buy prescription-only medicines without a prescription from illicit websites every year.

The company said medicines bought from unregulated sources risk being counterfeit, containing too little, too much or no active ingredient, or worse, toxic substances such as rat poison, boric acid or lead paint.

Between 50% and 90% of all prescription-only medicines bought on-line from unregulated websites are thought to be counterfeit or substandard.

The ASA adjudication came shortly after the Royal Pharmaceutical Society warned about internet medicines risks, highlighting a survey of 423 doctors by GP magazine which found that 25% of them had treated patients for adverse reactions caused by medicines bought over the internet.

Pfizer's Get Real, Get a Prescription advert was devised by healthcare advertising agency Langland and produced as part of a collaboration with medicines regulator the MHRA and patient charities.

The advert and a short 'making of' video can be seen at Pfizer UK's channel . It was awarded a '15' rating by the British Board of Film Classification and shown at around 600 cinemas between January and March this year.

Related stories:

Pfizer launches anti-counterfeiting cinema advert

January 15, 2009

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