AstraZeneca scraps early DTC campaign for new cholesterol drug

WILMINGTON, DE: Just days after The Wall Street Journal published an article that dissected the strategy behind AstraZeneca's latest DTC marketing campaign, which was on behalf of its new cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor, the company decided to scrap the effort in order to "reevaluate whether the timing was appropriate," said Gary Bruell, director of PR for the company's cardiovascular division.

WILMINGTON, DE: Just days after The Wall Street Journal published an article that dissected the strategy behind AstraZeneca's latest DTC marketing campaign, which was on behalf of its new cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor, the company decided to scrap the effort in order to "reevaluate whether the timing was appropriate," said Gary Bruell, director of PR for the company's cardiovascular division.

The drug received FDA approval last month.

The September 1 WSJ article, which discussed AstraZeneca's plans to market Crestor on the websites of The Weather Channel, The New York Times, and USA Today, called the plan "unusual" and "novel" because it targeted consumers before doctors. Traditionally, DTC efforts have targeted physicians first.

Bruell clarified, however, that the online ads weren't launched as part of a concerted consumer- outreach effort. He also called the campaign "more of a teaser," and added, "We're not doing a consumer program until sometime in 2004."

The decision to pull the DTC campaign comes as more regulatory scrutiny is being given

to the sometimes-controversial marketing practice.

As of late, the FDA has taken steps toward cracking down on potentially misleading DTC marketing practices. Communications head Peter Pitts recently told PRWeek that the agency has plans to more closely examine DTC strategies as part of its new strategic action plan.

And last month, the FDA sent a warning letter to Bristol-Myers Squibb, stating the drug company must run correctional ads to clarify exaggerated claims made in an existing campaign for its cholesterol drug Pravachol.

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