FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

“Potty” Ads Work for Pharma Giant AbbVie

by

Photo by FIWH FISH | CC BY 2.0

“My number two does not look like a number two. I don’t know what to call it. Is there a number three?” So begins an ad in an aggressive AbbVie campaign to sell the disease of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) in order to sell AbbVie’s drug for it. EPI is characterized by frequent diarrhea, gas, bloating and stomach pain says the campaign whose pay off line is “Don’t Keep a Lid on It.”  (Get it?) Creon, AbbVie’s drug to treat  the hitherto almost unknown disease of EPI is priced at over $500 a prescription.

“Two-thirds of patients (66 percent) have never even heard of EPI and even more (78 percent) are not aware of the symptoms,” says an AbbVie press release to create “awareness” among patients and doctors. Search results for EPI bring you to AbbVie’s “Identify EPI” sites replete with quizzes and videos of people Just Like You. Even if you have never heard of the disease or don’t have all of its symptoms, you are a candidate for our expensive drugs says the shameless campaign.

Another drug in AbbVie’s poop franchise is Humira, approved to treat moderate to severely active Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Despite Humira’s links to lymphoma and other malignancies, some fatal, infections including Legionella and Listeria, worsening and new onset congestive heart failure and fatal reactivation of hepatitis B virus, it has been the U.S.’s top selling drug. Who says advertising doesn’t work? Cynics might even ask if AbbVie makes drugs for the side effects of Humira.

Last month, Humira ads were so over the top, even those in its targeted demographic, those with inflammatory bowel diseases, were offended. Commenting on the TV ads which show a woman grimacing while she holds her stomach and a father wearing a pained expression as he heads to the bathroom, one person wrote, “Speaking as one who suffers from IBS…We don’t need insulting reminders in the name of selling the latest drug.” Others called the Humira ads “insulting,” “depressing” and “deplorable.”

“‘I thought I was managing my moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. Then I realized something was missing—me. I realized my symptoms were keeping me from being there. So I talked to my doctor,'” the ads say according to FiercePharma. “The music tempo shifts to upbeat and he is shown picking up his daughter from school, taking her for ice cream and generally enjoying life with her, as the Humira risk and benefit voiceover runs.”

To sell exocrine pancreatic insufficiency AbbVie has given it the snappy initials EPI––a contrivance which has also helped sell the conditions of ED (erectile dysfunction), Low T (low testosterone), SAD (season affective disorder) and HSDD (hypoactive sexual desire disorder) and the drugs to treat them. (Despite the catchy HSDD, initials for a “disease” characterized by women not wanting enough sex, the so called “Pink Viagra” is not selling.)

Selling obscure diseases to sell obscenely priced drugs is unethical for two reasons. It doesn’t just raise everyone’s health care costs and raise their taxes through government programs like Medicare, the VA and Tricare which often pay the freight. It makes a mockery of the entire U.S. health care system by aggressively seeking people who are not sick to “treat” while ignoring millions who really are sick but for whom there is no profit in treating.

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail