EDITORIAL: How to market a controversial pill

The FDA's recent approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, more commonly known as RU-486, brings with it several important communications issues, the least of which is the never-ending debate over abortion itself.

The FDA's recent approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, more commonly known as RU-486, brings with it several important communications issues, the least of which is the never-ending debate over abortion itself.

The FDA's recent approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, more commonly known as RU-486, brings with it several important communications issues, the least of which is the never-ending debate over abortion itself.

More pressing, now that the pill has been approved and will be available to women across the country later this month, is how to handle the reality of the availability of this controversial drug.

DDB Issues & Advocacy, part of DDB Worldwide which is owned by Omnicom, has the task of marketing mifepristone to the American public. There are the obvious concerns, such as protecting the drug's manufacturer, New York-based Danco Laboratories from anti-abortion attacks. But there are also concerns about how this drug should be marketed.

The usual rules do not apply here. Given the controversial nature of the drug, there's no need to chase after the press. The challenge is to keep reporters, politicians and other parties on message and informed in an environment where this drug is bound to be accompanied by hype and hysteria among the interested parties.

The opportunities for misinformation and scare-mongering by the drug's opposition are endless. What we need here is a cautious, responsible, useful and well-informed PR campaign. And judging by their Web site, www.earlyoptionpill.com, DDB is well on its way. The site is low-key, yet straightforward. This is the type of approach that will make for successful PR on such a divisive issue. While there will be splash, fanfare and emotion amidst the controversy, DDB must stick to the facts.



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