January 11, 2010
by Christina England
A recent news report claims that there has been a spate of false advertising by Merck and GlaxoSmithKline for their HPV vaccines. SANE VAX sent out a press release this week reporting that around the world HPV vaccines have been falsely advertised. They state that as a consequence of false advertising France have banned Gardasil advertising and many adverts for Cervarix have been removed in the UK.
On the 31 August 2010, France banned advertising Gardasil as an anti-cancer vaccine in their country. A press release went out on the 4th January 2011 from SANE VAX entitled Gardasil, One Less Victim of Cervical Cancer?” France says ´NO´ as they ban Gardasil ads stating:
“Amidst all of the media hype surrounding HPV vaccines, the traditional press has remained silent on many critical issues, not the least of which occurred on the 31 of August 2010 in France. As of that date, Merck´s marketing partner for the HPV vaccine Gardasil, Sanofli-Pasteur, was officially prohibited from advertising Gardasil for cervical cancer prevention in France.
According to public documentation, the Director General of the French Agency for Safety of Health Products (AFSSAPS) found the sponsor of several Gardasil ads to be in direct violation of the French public health code.”
India also has had problems with the HPV adverts. In December 2009 the Indian authorities felt that GlaxoSmithKline were misleading the public in the way that they advertisted Cervarix. The Drugs Controller General of India or DCGI; the Drug Regulatory Authority of India pulled up GlaxoSmithKline Plc´s (GSK) for what they called “unlawful” propagation of its cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, through mass media.
They stated at the time that GlaxoSmithKline´s promotional advertisement campaign had appeared in different newspapers and on television channels announcing that the vaccine was effective against cervical cancer and this contravenes the provisions of Indian drug laws.
The DCGI stated that the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs & Magical Remedies Act 1954, does not allow any claim to prevent or cure diseases in Schedule J of the Act, which includes cancer and the adverts they said does just this.
Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, drugs sold under prescription cannot be advertised and this includes vaccines. India only allows advertisement of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Even though the GlaxoSmithKline adverts did not refer to the name of its product Cervarix anywhere in the ad campaign experts are reported to have said the following:-
“Those ads clearly claim that vaccination can prevent cervical cancer, so it doesn´t matter that they don´t name the vaccine.”
It was reported that DCGI Surinder Singh was quoted to have said:-
“They (GSK) say the vaccine will be effective for cervical cancer. This kind of advertising is not allowed”
GSK were asked by the DCGI to withdraw promotional advertisements for the cervical cancer vaccine, because they believed the campaign to be violating certain norms. A spokesman for GSK said: