Pharmaceutical Industry To Launch Ad Campaigns To Boost Image
Already on pace to be the biggest spender on advertising outside of the two major political parties this election year, the pharmaceutical industry is planning to release a barrage of ads to strengthen its image, which has been "tarnished by political attacks and resentment over high prescription drug prices," the Wall Street Journal reports. As part of the effort, Pfizer has been pushing other drug companies to contribute to a multi-million dollar fund for Internet, grass-roots and television ad campaigns designed to boost the industry's image. Pfizer has hired Edelman Public Relations Worldwide to prepare ads -- which may begin airing in "key" states next week -- touting the industry's "health innovations." In addition, the public relations firm is working on a rapid-response plan designed to provide quick comments on drug industry proposals offered by candidates or elected officials. At the same time, Pfizer is set to launch an ad campaign today designed to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in its discount drug card program, the Journal reports.
Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has contributed millions of dollars in recent months for political ads in several states with tight congressional races. For example, the industry group has provided the United Seniors Association with more than $8 million for ads promoting about two dozen House candidates who support the House-passed GOP Medicare legislation, which includes a prescription drug benefit (Hamburger, Wall Street Journal, 9/16). The commercials began running last week in about 20 regions where Republicans face tough races this fall, the AP/Orlando Sentinel reports. The ads are tailored to each race, stating that the candidates "understand" the need to assist seniors with health care costs and supports adding "meaningful drug coverage to Medicare for all seniors" (Epso, AP/Orlando Sentinel, 9/15). The ads end by encouraging viewers to call their respective representative and "urge him to keep fighting for his bill" (Kinnard, National Journal, 9/11). The association's campaign, which also includes Internet and direct mailing efforts, is supported by a "general education grant" from PhRMA, according to Charles Jarvis, chair and CEO of the United Seniors Association. In addition, the 60 Plus Association has been running radio and newspaper advertising in selected states backing the GOP-backed legislation. The Journal reports that Democratic officials say both groups are helping Republican candidates and drug companies by promoting industry-backed legislation. "The pharmaceutical industry helped Republicans write their drug bill, and now the industry wants to keep Republicans in Congress," Jenny Backus, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said (Wall Street Journal, 9/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.