AHF Bans Pfizer Sales Representatives From Facilities in Response to Company’s Promotion of Erectile Dysfunction Drug
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation last week announced that it will ban Pfizer sales representatives from its facilities during business hours in response to how the drug maker markets its erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, the AP/Forbes reports (AP/Forbes, 2/8). AHF last month filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Pfizer for allegedly promoting recreational use of Viagra in advertisements. AHF said Pfizer's ads for the drug have increased risky sexual behavior, as well as cases of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, among men. The suit asks that Pfizer stop running ads that promote Viagra as a lifestyle drug and that the company fund ads promoting awareness about the risks associated with Viagra and STIs. In addition, the suit asks that Pfizer forfeit profits gained from the "misleading" ads and pay for AHF's costs of treating cases of HIV/AIDS and other STIs that it has linked to Viagra. AHF in December 2006 launched an ad campaign against Pfizer because it said the company's ads for Viagra promote recreational use. Pfizer at the time denied that the ads encourage recreational use of the drug and said that its advertising states that the drug does not protect against STIs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/22).
According to AHF, Pfizer representatives will not be allowed in its health care centers worldwide, including 14 centers in California and Florida (AHF release, 2/8). "After repeated attempts to engage Pfizer on the negative impact of its marketing and advertising strategy and tactics for ... Viagra, there has been no recognition by [Pfizer] of the documented correlation between Viagra and the recent rise in sexually transmitted diseases and HIV in men who have sex with men," AHF in the release said. The group added that Pfizer has "made no attempt to address this alarming trend." Pfizer in a statement said that AHF's decision is "unfortunate" because the "reality is Pfizer sales representatives provide very valuable and important information about medical conditions and Pfizer medicines designed to treat these conditions." The company added, "As a result, we believe this decision may negatively impact patients receiving care at local AHF clinics" (AP/Forbes, 2/8). In related news, an FDA advisory panel announced last week that it will meet on April 24 to examine the safety and efficacy of Pfizer's CCR5 blocker maraviroc, the AP/365Gay.com reports. Pfizer plans to offer the drug, which is taken twice daily, with a test developed by Monogram Biosciences that determines if people likely will respond to the treatment (AP/365Gay.com, 2/8).