In 2008, Bayer reached a settlement with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to spend $20 million in advertising to correct the ads for its top-selling contraceptive Yaz. Early ads targeted at women in their 20s and younger promoted the drug as not only for birth control, but also to help cure acne and premenstrual syndrome.
New ads were created, but when they were the Bayer executives that it would be funny to also create a spoof ad for their own internal use callously ignoring the injuries and deaths being attributed to Yaz around the country (warning: explicit language used):
On Oct. 14, ABCâs Nightline broadcasted the story of former pediatric nurse who is suing the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer. The nurse suffered a massive double pulmonary embolism that she placed her in a coma and caused her to go blind. She believes the Bayerâs popular contraceptive drug Yaz, which she had only been taking for three months, caused the blood clots.
Typically, two to four women per 10,000 on birth control pills will suffer blood clots, but independent studies have found that the risk is two to three times higher with Yaz, reported ABC News.
The nurse filed a lawsuit against Bayer after the drug company admitted that its claims were exaggerated and independent studies have warned about an increased risk of blood clots while taking it.
As of Feb. 1, there were about 6,850 lawsuits pending in the United States, served upon Bayer on behalf of persons alleged to have suffered personal injuries, some of them fatal, from the use of Bayerâs oral contraceptive products. At least 50 deaths have been attributed to Yaz, according to the complaints filed with the courts.
Bayer promoted Yaz not only for pregnancy prevention but also as a lifestyle drug. Yaz was originally marketed by Bayer to help cure acne and premenstrual syndrome while downplaying the health risks. Using the slogan âBeyond Birth Control,â the target market was women in their 20s.
The ads were so effective that sales of the drug jumped from $262 million in 2007 to $616 million in 2008. Yaz became the best-selling oral contraception pill in the United States, with about 18 percent market share.
Attorney generals from 27 states challenged Bayer about its aggressive advertising campaign for the birth-control pill, charging the ads were deceptive. In 2008, the FDA agreed and said in a warning letter that Yaz had not been shown to be effective for common PMS, just a rare and serious form of menstrual symptoms, and that Yazâs success with acne was âmisleadingly overstate(d).â
Bayer reached a settlement with the FDA that allowed the drug manufacturer to keep Yaz on the market if it spent at least $20 million on a campaign to âcorrectâ previous ads.
Here is the corrective ad. Notice how the spoof uses the same actors and setting:
Here is the ABC Nightline report: