Marketing headache – an apology

By Siouxsie Wiles 16/06/2011 9


I recently wrote about an ‘advertising feature’ I saw in a magazine that discussed migraines before leading onto an advert for a migraine prevention medicine. I jumped to the conclusion that the ‘feature’ was paid for by the pharmaceutical company, but thought it best to get in touch with the magazine and check.

So I owe Janssen‘s an apology. Sorry. It turns out that Janssen’s had nothing to do with the feature. Here is the reply from the magazine:

A North & South freelancer wrote the content on our request and based on topics we thought would interest our readers. As a matter of course with these types of feature promotions we advised potential advertisers about the topic selection, thus the migraine prevention advertisement within.

So patients will now be bothering their doctor to prescribe an expensive drug (apparently there are a number of cheaper alternatives) to prevent their migraines so a magazine can get advertising revenue? I’m speechless.


9 Responses to “Marketing headache – an apology”

  • I think you may be being a bit naive Siousie. Look at any magazine / newspaper / website. Read the article and find the related advertising surrounding it. That’s how marketing is done these days. If you run a magazine, you want advertisers to give you money – so you write articles that will keep your clients happy. Luckily I have an inbuilt filter which prevents me from seeing the ads, but don’t tell them that.

  • Hi Tim

    Being a foreigner, I’m not used to the direct marketing of medicines. I’m aware of all the usual advertising and like you have a bit of a filter, but was surprised to see medicines treated the same way.

  • You know we have more prescription drugs now.
    Every commercial on TV is a prescription drug ad.
    I can’t watch TV for four minutes without thinking I have five serious diseases.
    Like: “Do you ever wake up tired in the mornings?”
    Oh my god I have this, write this down. Whatever it is, I have this.
    Half the time I don’t even know what the commercial is…
    There are people running in fields or flying kites or swimming in the ocean.
    That is the greatest disease ever. How did you get that?
    That disease comes with a hot chick and a puppy.
    – Lazyboy, from Underwear Goes Inside The Pants

  • Let’s assume that someone writes an article about holidays in a tropical island and the magazine contacted advertisers and Qantas bought an ad. Should we be outraged because we could get a cheaper flight in Jetstar?

    Lame outrage.

    • Depends. Is travelling Qantas likely to cause significant side effects, including suicidal thoughts?

  • I got a cheap flight with Garuda airlines. Was pretty depressed by that, not to mention just being on the plane made me feel like I’d taken my life into my hands. That count?

  • My guess is that you have been exposed to the Pfizer campain that is also running in Denmark for the moment. They have hired a communications bureau to make surveys on the internet and through mail about our usage of migraine medicine, and now use the results as a vehicle to plant stories in the news media (newspapers, TV, you name it).

    The stories are very decent – migraine is a serious disease, and reduces life quality etc. The sentence they plant somewhere in the article is that more migraineurs should visit their doctor, and (here it comes) try more than one of the triptans available.

    This sounds innocent, but is a clear incentive to change from Sumatriptan, which is a copy medicine and cheap, to one of the other triptans, which are still under patent and hence more than 10 times as expensive.

    Direct advertising for prescription medicines is not possible in Denmark – so this is how it is now done.

    I think the original assumption, that the story was planted (although the editor did not admit it) is correct.

  • Out of interest, according to MIMS, the costs of triptans from the suppliers are:
    Sumatriptan $1.55 for 4 tablets (generic/copy medication)
    Naratriptan $17.00 for 2 tablets (patent medication)
    Rizatriptan $25.32 for 3 tablets (patent medication)

    Of course, the costs to the health system are greater because there are transport costs, pharmacy markup, etc., to be added to these. It still demonstrates the effect on health costs that Pharmac can have by sourcing generics once a medication is off-patent.