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Drug watchdog criticises advert


The US drugs watchdog has warned pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline that adverts for one a prostate medicine are misleading.

The treatment Avodart is used by people who suffer from an enlarged prostate. A common symptom for this complaint is frequently needing to urinate.

An advertising campaign from the UK-based firm features a man working on a model of the solar system who is frequently forced to stop what he is doing in order to visit the bathroom.

Someone is then seen to recommend Avodart, claiming that “other medicines, they don’t treat the cause, because they don’t shrink the prostate.”

The US Food and Drug Administration wrote to the company’s US management to say the claim was untrue as another treatment Proscar, from Merck & Co, also reduces the size of the prostate.

The watchdog also complained that the visual representation of the shrinking effect was misleading. At one point the ad shows a man holding a model of a planet which is quickly replaced with a much smaller planet, to demonstrate Avodart’s prostate-shrinking power.

The FDA complained the images exaggerate the drug’s effect, which was shown to reduce the prostates size by about 25% over two years.

The FDA said: “The planet shrinking in size represents a reduction in prostate volume that is much greater than the reduction actually achieved with Avodart.”

A GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman said the advert has not aired since last autumn, adding the company was “committed to responsible marketing”.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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