Takeda sleeping drug takes 'Worst Product Award'

By Mike Nagle

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Marketing Takeda

Japanese pharma firm Takeda beat off strong competition from the
likes of Coca-Cola to take home the dubious honour of Consumer
International's 'Worst Product' award thanks to its sleeping pill
ad.

The advert in question, which was actually the responsibility of Takeda's US subsidiary, was for Rozerem (ramelteon) and ran at the start of the school year and used images of children, blackboards, school books and a school bus. Under the tagline 'Back to School', the accompanying voiceover stated: "Rozerem would like to remind you that it's back to school season. Ask your doctor today if Rozerem is right for you." ​ In a statement about the award, CI said: "It doesn't take a PhD in marketing to see that this is an effort to persuade parents to seek out the sleeping drug for their children - to help them get through the stress of term starting." "The advertisement ran without noting the very serious side effects that this drug can have, including increased thoughts of suicide in already depressed patients,"​ it continued. Not only that, but the product label for the drug admits that the "safety and effectiveness of Rozerem in paediatric patients have not been established." ​ The pharmaceutical industry doesn't have the best reputation with respect to marketing of its drugs and the timing of this award couldn't be worse as the industry has actually been getting some positive press this week​. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also got it in the neck, with the CI saying that it took six months for the FDA to tell Takeda to remove the advert and that no fine or penalty was imposed against the pharma company. "This case demonstrates the lengths to which some drug companies will go to increase sales of their products, how direct to consumer advertising can promote irrational drug use, and how weak regulation can foster irresponsible corporate behaviour," said the CI. "This company is our overall award winner for irresponsible behaviour for 2007." ​ The awards were dished out at the consumer advocate's annual conference, with Mattel winning 'Bad Toys', after it recalled over 21 million toys from around the world over a five-week period in 2007, due to design faults and the use of poisonous levels of lead paint. Coca-Cola didn't go home empty handed either, winning the 'Bad drinks marketing' award for continuing to market their bottled water product 'Dasani' in some countries, despite it being exposed as only containing tap water. Kellogg's scooped the final award - this time for 'Bad Food' - for marketing their cereals to children despite some of them being high in fat, sugar and/or salt.

Related topics Preclinical Research