Pharma Advertising Gone Dotty?!?

With the banning of promotional give-away’s, decreasing pharmaceutical marketing budgets, escalating regulation, and an ever-more sophisticated consumer, spare a thought for pharma marketing execs charged with getting their message across.

Enter Genus Pharmaceuticals who probably thought they’d struck a home run with their new UK advertising campaign for their eczema cream Cetraben.

The print ad featured the back view of a young woman walking down a street with the wind lifting her short skirt to reveal red-and-white polka dot underwear…along with the headline “Confidence to live life their way. However that may be.

Turns out that’s not how one British doctor wanted to live his life!  He complained to the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), which was created by the Association of British Pharmaceutcial Industry (ABPI) to act as an industry watchdog.

With his stiff upper lip clearly quivering the enraged physician claimed that the advertisement was “offensive and degrading due to its sexual and titillating picture”.  Furthermore, he “despaired of the industry’s standards and culture” if they thought such an advertisement should be considered appropriate.

Following an investigation, PMCPA said that the ad did indeed breach Clause 9.2 of the Code, adding it is unacceptable to “display naked or partially naked people for the purpose of attracting attention and the use of sexual imagery for that purpose”.

Genus argued that the woman photographed was only embarrassed that her skirt had blown up in the wind. They claimed that the ad merely demonstrated that because of successful treatment of her eczema, she now had the confidence to wear a skirt and not cover her legs. The firm added that it had taken Clause 9.2 into account when considering the image, but believed that it was suitable for its intended audience, i.e.,adults and doctors.

The PMCPA countered suggesting that female adults and children would also be using this cream, and would likely also be offended.

Genus has since updated the image removing the view of the underwear, and  lengthened the skirt. Sadly, we can’t bring you a picture of the old advert, as it has been pulled from journals and all but disappeared from cyberspace.

Instead why not tell us your thoughts on pharmaceutical advertising.  Would a panty clad tush make you tusk? Would the polka dots drive you dotty?

We’d love to know.

An itch is just an Itch

…Or is it?  As our readers know there are few more guilty, sybaritic pleasures than scratching an itch.

New research from a world-renowned itch expert, shows that the relief derived from scratching an itch all depends on the itch’s location.

Gil Yosipovitch, professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and often referred to as the “Godfather of Itch”  just published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.

The study evaluated whether itch intensity was perceived differently at three body sites, and the correlation between pleasure and itch relief induced by scratching.

They induced itch on the ankles, forearms and backs of 18 brave volunteers by rubbing their skin with cowhage – a tropical plant infamous for the extreme itchiness it produces on contact. Itch intensity and scratching pleasurability were then assessed every 30 seconds for five minutes.

Subjects weren’t allowed to scratch their own itch. Instead, the researchers rubbed their subjects’ induced itches with a cytology brush! Probably not nearly as satisfying as scratching with a nice sharp fingernail, but more reproducible for the purposes of the study.

The researchers tested the itch-scratch response at three sites: back, forearm and ankle. Turns out scratching the ankle produced more pleasurable and longer-lasting itch relief than the other two locations.

Before you ask why the researchers chose the back, ankle and forearm to make their measurements, be reassured that this is just the start. “Future studies,” they write, “could also examine the scratching pleasurability associated with other itchy areas such as the scalp or the anogenital region.

Yosipovitch believes this research provides a better understanding of itch and how to relieve it for people who have skin disease.

We see commonly involved areas such as the ankle and back in itchy patients with skin disorders caused by eczema or psoriasis,” he said. “We never understood why those areas were more affected, and now we better understand that itch in these areas is more intense and pleasurable to scratch.”

Whatever else they learn, the Wake Forest researchers have proven one thing: Every itch has its niche!