According to an article in the London Financial Times:

“Eli Lilly is to be reprimanded by the UK pharmaceutical industry watchdog for ‘unbalanced’ promotion of its anti-erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, in violation of ethical rules.

“The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority has ruled that the US-based company ‘brought discredit’ on the industry through a marketing campaign on television, the internet and in brochures in GP surgeries in the UK.”

The Lilly campaign that is the focus of this reprimand is the so-call “40 over 40” campaign, which claims that “40 per cent of men aged over 40 had problems with erectile dysfunction.”

It’s interesting that the UK “watchdog” focused on the failure of the campaign “to cite the side-effects or risks, and in a way that would have encouraged patients to seek a prescription for Cialis.”

Back in July, I pointed out EXACTLY how this campaign “encouraged patients to seek a prescription for Cialis:”

“A section of the site is about ‘ED treatment options,’ which includes a table listing oral treatments, penile injections (ouch!), and vacuum pumps (hmmmm…). But due to EU laws banning DTC advertising, the site cannot mention oral treatments by name and must refer to them as ‘product 1,’ ‘product 2,’ and ‘product 3.’

“Visitors are urged to talk to their doctors about treatment options — doc, I would like ‘product 1’ please. Huh? I suppose Lilly sales reps can prep doctors so that they know that “product 1″ = Cialis when UK guys come in and ask for it.”

See “40over40: Lilly’s DTC ED Awareness Campaign in the UK“.

Unfortunately, I did not do a screen capture of the Treatment Options page of the Web site. If you follow that link ( today, you will see this:

It will be interesting to see if the “product 1” ploy is still used when the page is revived and includes side-effect risks. Will it still bring “discredit on the industry”?