Consumer Reports — published by Consumer Union — recently launched its “Antidote to TV Drug Ads” series that intends to be “an entertaining new online video series that will track and report on such ads.” Needless to say, the videos are YouTube-like spoofs.

First up in the series is a spoof of GSK’s Requip TV ad (here).

CR doesn’t say anything about this ad that I and other bloggers have not already said a long time ago (see, for example, “Restless Brush Syndrome: Lessons for Requip Marketers” and “Restless Pharma Marketing“).

“Extremely Sarcastic and Insulting Video”
However, CR does have a HUGE readership that I can only dream of! As a result, its attack on Requip drew the attention of the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, the supposedly grassroots patient advocacy group with suspicious monetary and corporate ties to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the marketer of Requip (see posts cited above).

The RLS Foundation issued this clarion call to its “members”:

“We wanted to apprise everyone on our mailing list of some bad press for RLS. We want to encourage you to ‘fight back’.

“A video on promises ‘relief from restless legs hype.’ The RLS Foundation is taking a tough stand against this type of bad press for RLS.

Click here to watch this extremely sarcastic and insulting video for yourself. Then, click here to read the RLS Foundation’s response to this video.

“The RLS Foundation is calling for drastic measures to respond to this video. We aren’t concerned that they are reporting on a drug. We are concerned that they are mocking a condition that so many people live with everyday. We encourage you to respond to this advertisement immediately. If you are a subscriber of Consumer Reports, we encourage you to cancel your subscription….”

I am not going to deconstruct the RLS Foundation’s letter to Consumer Reports except to mention that it compares RLS to childhood asthma (eliciting images in our minds of beloved, helpless, suffering children) and suggests that the side effects are worth it considering that RLS can be a cause of suicide!

Mirapex Buzz Marketing Response
A comment I received to a previous post indicates that the Mirapex buzz marketers will have a field day with this:

John –

Thank you for your article! I suffer from RLS — sometimes it’s really quite horrible. Just trust me on that. Anyway, I’m not writing about RLS, but about how grateful I am to learn more about who’s behind the RLS Foundation.

A story for you: I just received an e-mail from the RLS Foundation criticizing and ad from Consumer Reports. Here’s an excerpt…

[see above]

So, I showed this to my wife — who’s much brighter than I am — and she said, “Hmmm. I don’t see anything wrong with the Consumer Reports ad. And, hey, y’know the RLS response doesn’t sound like a non-profit’s response — I didn’t think that non-profits went around attacking each other for protecting consumers. I wonder if we could find out if RLS Foundation has any corporate sponsors…”

So, I Googled ‘rls foundation sponsors requip’ and found your article. When I read it to my wife, she did a little celebratory jig. 😉

We were both delighted to find that you’d done some research and were able to help us learn that there IS a connection b/t the RLS Foundation and the RLS drug makers.

What to do next, I don’t know — my Mirapex is a real life-saver — but I was certainly glad to learn about the connection.

Sorry, anonymous, “my Mirapex is a real life-saver,” gave you away. But, thanks for thinking of me and telling me about the RLS Foundation’s email and letter. BTW, for the record, I think the Mirapex promotional campaign has flaws, but at least I can’t accuse it of disease mongering.