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Viagra ads under attack

Ashley Milne-Tyte Jan 23, 2007
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SCOTT JAGOW: The drug company Pfizer was sued yesterday over Viagra. An AIDS group says it’s dangerous to market Viagra as a recreational drug. The group says Pfizer’s ads are leading to more cases of HIV and other STDs. More now from Ashley Milne-Tyte.


ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Gone are the clinical-sounding ads Bob Dole used to star in. Viagra’s new message is aimed at younger men.

Michael Weinstein is president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the group that’s filed the lawsuit.

MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: Pfizer is promoting Viagra as a party drug. They’re promoting it for New Year’s, for the Super Bowl, for Valentine’s Day.

Analysts say it’s hardly surprising the focus of the ads has changed. After all, they say, Viagra is now faced with fierce competition from rivals Levitra and Cialis. It needs to expand its market.

Pharmaceutical consultant David Webster says Viagra’s pretty much a cultural icon these days.

DAVID WEBSTER: Much of the advertising for the product Pfizer doesn’t even have to do. It’s done by word of mouth, over the water cooler at work, on the golf course and elsewhere.

So if the company were forced to pull its Viagra ads, he says, sales wouldn’t suffer much.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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