The backlash against direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug ads during the Super Bowl may not have been as furious as the backlash against Beyonce’s tribute to Malcolm X, the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter, but it did involve the White House, which specifically criticized a “PSA” about opioid-induced constipation (OIC). The ad was funded by AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo, two companies in a joint venture to market Movantik, a drug that treats OIC.
The ad drew criticism from other quarters as well.
Maher’s “junkies” comment got an angry response from at least one patient advocacy group sponsored by AstraZeneca. Paul Gileno, Founder & President of the U.S. Pain Foundation sent me this via email:
Bill Maher single-handedly labeled all people with pain as junkies. I take extreme offense to this statement. U.S. Pain Foundation collaborated on this ad with other organizations to spread awareness and information. The goal – for all involved on this project – was to make sure people living with OIC do not feel embarrassed or alone.
Another Astrazeneca-sponsored OIC ad — also possibly involving the U.S. Pain Foundation or other such astro-turf patient group — was a Movantik TV Commercial, titled “Opioid Baggage” which shows a women enjoying a day in the park with her Opioid pill! Talk about “not being alone”!
More criticism of the ad emerges: