Game Over: FDA Cracks Down on Viagra Online Push | Adweek
Advertisement

Game Over: FDA Cracks Down on Viagra Online Push

Advertisement

Pfizer earned two distinctions in the world of digital marketing this year, both for Viagra: It launched the first-ever online advergame for a prescription drug, which it pulled earlier this month. And separately, it was the only company sent a "warning letter" for digital marketing by the Federal Drug Administration, asking it to stop airing an online video.

Combined, those two events encapsulate the difficulties drug companies have in leveraging the Web's full creative potential. The FDA has no rules that specifically address online marketing. Thus companies don't really know what they are allowed to do. The price of going too far can be high. The FDA can spike an entire campaign with a single letter, so companies have taken the most conservative route possible.

The FDA's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications "just won't give you any guidance," said Bill Drummy, CEO of Heartbeat Digital in New York, a pharma agency that has worked for Amgen, Merck and Roche. "It's not fair."

While other marketers rush to embrace new digital forms