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instead. in /data/30/1/121/80/1121895/user/1185656/htdocs/wordpress/wp-includes/functions.php on line 3457 » William Boden, MD: discusses DTC TV ads for Cypher stents

William Boden, MD: discusses DTC TV ads for Cypher stents

May 15, 2008 Wall Street Journal, Scott Hensley

Stent Skeptic Blasts JNJ

“When your arteries narrow, so does your life,” says a TV ad from Johnson & Johnson. “It’s time to open it up.”

Cue the kaleidoscopic image of the company’s Cypher drug-coated stent. And then come the shots of remarkably buff people, presumably with Cypher stents, doing things we couldn’t even dream of trying in our relatively healthy state, like swimming long distance in open water under a cloudy, threatening sky.

Enter William Boden, stent skeptic at the University at Buffalo Schools of Medicine and Public Health, who trashes the Cypher TV ad campaign in the New England Journal of Medicine. Boden, lead author of a commentary in the journal, asks if the direct-to-consumer advertising for Cypher crosses the line in consumer health education.

He pretty much answers his own question: “A device is being promoted to millions of people who are ill equipped to make judgments about the complex therapeutic issues that even specialists continue to debate.” TV ads give safety issues short shrift compared with print, and the images and text in the 60-second spot play up the benefits. He goes on to ask the FDA to investigate whether Cypher ad met the basic requirements for “nondeceptive” drug advertising.

For its part, J&J told the Health Blog in a statement:

The content, messaging and fair balance of the ads were reviewed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prior to airing. The fair balance information was appropriate for a television ad and directed the viewer to other sources of more detailed information, including their doctors and a more extensive Patient Information statement that was also reviewed with FDA.

Recall that Boden helped fuel the recent debate about the use of drug-coated stents with results from the Courage trial, which showed that patients with stable heart disease could do just as well on drug therapy alone as stents combined with drugs.

And late last year, he told the New York Times that the Cypher ad was “deplorable” and might be a sign of desperation for J&J. For more from Boden, see the video interview courtesy of the HealthCare Channel.

If you haven’t seen the Cypher ad lately, it’s because you don’t live in Baltimore. J&J has discontinued the spot nationally, but keeps it running in Charm City, “a test market for a market strategy we’re assessing,” a company spokesman wrote us. You can still see the Cypher ad online here.

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