Genentech Runs Voluntary Corrective Ads for Boniva

Jan 18, 2012

Even though Roche-owned Genentech wasn’t required to run costly corrective advertisements following an FDA Untitled Letter on Boniva last January, the company has done so anyway.

A magazine ad for Boniva, fronted by actor Sally Field, generated the DDMAC (now the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion, or OPDP) Untitled Letter last year due to following phrase: “After one year on Boniva, 9 out of 10 women stopped and reversed their bone loss.” That didn’t jibe with the scientific data, DDMAC said in the letter, before requesting that all ads containing the phrase be removed from the campaign.

Genentech went a step further. In September of last year, the company began running corrective magazine ads addressing the overstated claim. The corrective ad states that the violative ad “may have given you the wrong impression.” It goes on to state that “Boniva has not been proven to stop and reverse bone loss in 9 out of 10 women and is not a cure for postmenopausal osteoporosis.” The corrective ads will run though April 2012.

Unlike their mild-mannered, Untitled Letter cousins, Warning Letters are considered more severe, and they typically mandate corrective ads to clear up any overstated claims or minimized risk information. Given that Genentech received the former communique and not the latter, it’s notable that the company chose to run corrective ads without a mandate.

After speaking with DDMAC about the Untitled Letter, Genentech worked with the agency to create and then “voluntarily” launch the corrective ads last September, according to Chris Vancheri, director, public affairs, at Genentech.

In a statement, Genentech said that in addition to the corrective advertisements – which are running in several women’s magazines, including Weight Watchers and this month’s WebMD the Magazine – “our clinical specialists have reached out to health care providers” to inform them about the corrective ads, which intend to “clarify the benefits and risks of Boniva in women suffering from post-menopausal osteoporosis.”

Sally Field was the face of Boniva beginning in 2006, but Vancheri says Field is “no longer engaged” on the campaign. GlaxoSmithKline signed a co-promotion deal with Roche on Boniva in 2001, but the companies broke the partnership in 2010.

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