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In Desperate Move, Pfizer Uses Sex To Sell Drugs

by mattjosh (writer), Albuquerque, January 24, 2007

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Pfizer, the pharmaceutical behemoth behind such name brand medications as Lipitor, Zoloft, and Viagra is facing hard times ahead as the patents on these popular pills progressively peter out over the next few years. Zoloft, a common anti-depressant, has expired already, and Lipitor, which has brought in nearly $13 billion last year year alone, making it the best-selling drug ever, is set to lose its patent in 2011.

In an effort to brace itself for these losses, Pfizer is eliminating 10,000 jobs, about 10% of their workforce, both here and abroad, over the next two years. Additionally, they will close at least two manufacturing plants in the US and possibly one more in Germany, as well as several research centers. All in all, the next few years will cut several billions of dollars of their income, annually.

Pfizer is not alone, either. Several other major drug companies are facing similar situations in the near future, and are making similar decisions to cut costs, close facilities, and lay off thousand of employees.

So, as the entire pharmaceutical industry looks down the barrel of scarce times to come, Pfizer looks to its ubiquitous erection-enabling drug, Viagra, to help get them over the hump. They cast younger, more attractive men in their commercials, and emphasize more strongly the good times that the pill can provide. Arguably, they are marketing it now as more of a sex-enhancer, rather than a medical treatment for erectile dysfunction.

But the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation isn't taking it lying down. They filed suit in Los Angeles earlier this week against Pfizer, accusing them of promoting the medication as a recreational drug, a problem that is all too prevalent without the help of their latest ad campaigns. The AIDS organization points to studies that have shown Viagra to be used in conjunction with crystal meth, so that meth abusers can fulfill the heightened libido the street drug produces. This more reckless sex life, in turn, leads to increased spreading of STDs like AIDS.

Pfizer contends that it is aware of Viagra's potential for abuse accordingly supports AIDS prevention with millions of dollars each year. As to the allegation that it is using younger spokesmen, Dr. Ivan Levinson, of Pfizer Urology and Sexual Health, cautions the world not to confuse "the age of the personality" with the severity of impotence, the Associated Press reported.

It is conceivable that some middle-aged men, despite being impotent, will not consider Viagra if it is solely targeted towards men in their 70's, as was one-time Viagra spokesman Bob Dole. In that light, younger personalities take away some of the stigma of needing erectile dysfunction treatment.

This is not the first time Pfizer has been accused of such misleading ad campaigns for Viagra. In 2004, the FDA warned Pfizer to be more explicit about the medical applications of Viagra, rather than simply advertising that it has something to do with having better sex.



Written with reports from the Associated Press.


About the Writer

mattjosh is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on In Desperate Move, Pfizer Uses Sex To Sell Drugs

Log In To Vote   Score: 2
By E Jo on January 24, 2007 at 06:16 pm
I am so glad to be a woman....interesting article!
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By Soulglo on January 24, 2007 at 06:52 pm
I've always had some kind of problem with those ads, you articulated it nicely.
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By Steven Lane on January 25, 2007 at 12:35 pm
great article, over the counter Viagra that's a scary thought.
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