The drugmaker, you may recall, had been running magazine ads that AIDS activist groups charged were nothing more than thinly disguised attempts to scare patients away from trying new drug reigmens. Now, though, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation says Glaxo has suspended its ads, which a Glaxo spokeswoman notes was scheduled to occur this month.
One ad had shown shark-infested waters with the message: “Don’t take a chance - stick with the HIV medicine that’s working for you." In another ad in Poz, a monthly magazine for AIDS patients, Glaxo promoted its Lexiva protease inhibitor and advised patients to ask their doctor, “Will the HIV medicine make my skin or eyes turn yellow?” Other protease inhibitors, however, have been associated with that side effect. The ads, by the way, carried Glaxo’s logo but don’t promote specific drugs (back story).
"AIDS drug advertising has a history of distorting the reality of AIDS treatment in order to generate sales. However, the GSK ads sank to a new low, and we are grateful that they have had the good sense to suspend this marketing campaign,” AHF president Michael Weinstein says in a statement. "These ads resort to blatantly exploiting patient fears in order to sell a product, while remaining unconcerned about the potential harm caused to patients who might be scared off treatment altogether, or going on a better course of treatment because of the threats implied by these ads."