Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wake Up PhRMA! or Tilting at Windmills

A week or so ago I reported that Sepracor was "sneaking" in Lunesta "reminder ads" despite being a signatory to PhRMA's Guiding Principles for DTC advertising (see "Sepracor Sneaks In Lunesta Reminder Ad").

Since then I've become aware that Sepracor is continuing to run Lunesta reminder ads on prime time cable and network TV. While I am no Don Quijote anxious to tilt at windmills, I decided to make this is a test case of Pharma's (and PhRMA's) commitment to the DTC Principles and report back to readers of Pharma Marketing Blog.


First, I tried calling Jonae Barnes, VP of Investor Relations and Corporation Communications at Sepracor (her number is 508-481-6700). I've left several voice mails -- no response. I also sent her an email directly as well as through the
online form located on the Sepracor Web site. No response.

I tried Amy P. Trevvett, Sr. Manager, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications, by phone and email as well. At least I got a return email receipt form her and I will treasure it the rest of my life! Otherwise, nada.


OK, that windmill was a waste of time! Might as well go through appropriate channels and try PhRMA's Office of Accountability. Today, I sent that office a letter by certified (you can
download it here), which points out the violations that I am aware of.

The following are approximate dates, times, and TV stations where these ads have appeared:

  • Friday, April 21, 2006; approx. 10 PM; History Channel (Channel 53 in Philadelphia)
  • Saturday, April 22, 12:54 PM, WCVB (Channel 5 in Boston)
  • Tuesday, May 2, 2006; 7:55 PM; FOX; show: Seinfeld (Channel 2 in Philadelphia)
I also sent copies to Ms. Barnes as well as Timothy J. Barberich, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Sepracor.

You can track these letters and be sure they were delivered by going to the
USPS web site and entering one of these tracking numbers:

7005 1820 0005 2547 4505: Letter to Barberich

7005 1820 0005 2547 4482: Letter to Barnes

7005 1820 0005 2547 4499: Letter to PhRMA


At least this establishes a public record. Let's see if PhRMA is awake or asleep at the wheel (sorry, that's an Ambien side effect, not a Lunesta one) .



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