The Wall Street Journal reports that patient support groups are criticizing GlaxoSmithKline over drug ads that they say attempt to scare patients away from trying other, newer drugs.
One ad's image is sharks in the water, with the message: "Don't take a chance -- stick with the HIV medicine that's working for you."
Another - for Glaxo's drug Lexiva - tells patients to ask their doctor, "Will the HIV medicine make my skin or eyes turn yellow?" That side effect has been reported with other HIV drugs.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has an ad showing a toilet - with the text, "Ask your doctor if there are HIV medications with a low risk of diarrhea." Of course BMS thinks it has such a drug.
The WSJ reports:
Such comparison ads are common elsewhere. But the pharmaceutical industry traditionally sold HIV drugs with images of hope and by explaining the benefits of their treatments. The tough new tack has some patient groups unsettled, saying it could scare off patients.
A development fueling the sharp-elbows advertising: The market for HIV medicines has grown crowded, and companies want to protect their market share.