Lilly promos run afoul of U.K. watchdog

A U.K. drugs watchdog is reprimanding Eli Lilly for an "unbalanced" promotion of its erectile dysfunction drug Cialis. The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority said the company neglected to mention the side effects or risks of the drug in a multipronged marketing campaign that included TV, internet and physicians-office brochures.

The campaign at issue--the "40 over 40" pitch--was a disease-awareness push that claimed 40 percent of men over the age of 40 have ED problems. It listed treatment options, including devices and drugs, without mentioning brand names on TV or internet. But the drug brands were listed in the brochures.

As you know, DTC advertising isn't kosher in the U.K., but disease awareness campaigns are. That's why the brand names weren't used online or on TV. But the regulators thought the campaign still worked to promote Cialis specifically. Lilly has already revamped the promos accordingly.

- read the story in the Financial Times
- check out the Pharma Marketing Blog's take