PROZAC: Lilly Takes DTC Cue with New Infomercial
Taking a "bold" step in the field of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, Eli Lilly & Co. has produced a 30-minute television infomercial touting the virtues of is blockbuster antidepressant drug Prozac the Los Angeles Times reports. Believed to be the first such advertisement for a psychiatric drug, the spot will begin airing Monday, May 17, during the middle of the night and on weekends, "when company marketers believe more depressed people will be watching." The ad, which primarily targets women, "blends stark, shaky camera shots of people who are presumably depressed with testimonials from patients who have benefited from Prozac." The Times adds that the ad opens in a blues bar, as a narrator quietly points out that blues melodies -- "an original American art form" -- "reflect a sadness that often seems to linger in the shadows of our existence."
The Heart of the Matter
Lilly officials say the infomercial is designed to educate the estimated nine million Americans who suffer from depression but have not sought treatment. But critics question whether the program's purpose is ultimately commercial: Lilly has recently seen its $2.8 million drug's share of the antidepressant market decrease because of competition, and the market is only expected to get tighter (Bernstein, 5/14).