Nav: Home

Drug companies' sexually explicit ads reaching too many youngsters

July 11, 2019

Virtually every day, millions of children and adolescents are being bombarded by sexually explicit direct-to-consumer advertising, despite pharmaceutical CEOs' claims to the contrary.

Leading business ethicist Denis Arnold from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte co-authored the study, "Self-Regulation in the Pharmaceutical Industry: The Exposure of Children and Adolescents to Erectile Dysfunction Commercials," published in the just released Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. Jim Oakley, professor and chair of marketing at Lewis University, is the study co-author.

Arnold, the Surtman Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics in the Belk College of Business, and Oakley studied marketing campaigns for erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs during a six-year period. These products include sildenafil citrate, manufactured and marketed as Viagra in the United States by Pfizer; and tadalafil, manufactured and marketed as Cialis in the United States by Eli Lilly.

"PhRMA Guiding Principles," for which both companies have certified their compliance, state that 90 percent of the audience viewing sexually explicit advertisements must be 18 or older. These principles, developed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade organization (PhRMA), were first introduced in 2005, and under these guidelines, a company must commit to internal processes to ensure compliance with the principles, complete an annual certification of compliance and submit a document to PhRMA signed by the CEO and chief compliance officer attesting to compliance.

"Pfizer and Eli Lily have never met the standard, and public disclosure of this misconduct in 2013 did not alter their behavior," stated Arnold, past president of the Society for Business Ethics. "The most reasonable explanations for this misconduct are that a public commitment to the standard helps block additional regulation, while at the same time there are no penalties for routinely violating the standard.

"Firms continued to aggressively advertise ED drugs when they knew children and adolescents would be exposed to these sexually explicit ads billions of times," Arnold added.

In 2013, Arnold and Oakley published a research article also in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law that found firms never met the industry standard during a different four-year period they analyzed. This study was widely publicized and acknowledged by the manufacturers of ED drugs and PhRMA. In this new study, Arnold and Oakley sought to answer this question, "Would public disclosure of non-compliance with industry standards improve firm behavior?" The answer, as determined by their recent study, is "no." Eric Patashnik, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law and the Julis-Rabinowitz Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science at Brown University, stated,

"Broadly, they [Arnold and Oakley] found that public disclosure did not cause firms to alter their behavior, suggesting that the pharmaceutical industry is simply not willing to police itself."

Other findings from "Self-Regulation in the Pharmaceutical Industry: The Exposure of Children and Adolescents to Erectile Dysfunction Commercials" include:
  • Twenty years after its introduction in the U.S., spending on direct-to-consumer advertising rose to $6.083 billion or five times as much as 1996 in inflation-adjusted dollars. This is more than double what the U.S. film industry spent on marketing

  • On average, there were 35-40,000 ED advertising impressions on children and adolescents daily, totaling more than five billion impressions, between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2015

  • Public disclosure of non-compliance with self-regulatory direct-to-consumer advertising standards did not bring advertising into compliance. Results demonstrate that firms failed to meet the industry standard during every quarter of this study's six-year period

  • Results support previous research that demonstrated that pharmaceutical self-regulation is a deceptive blocking strategy aimed at preventing further regulation rather than a means for the industry to police itself

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Related Erectile Dysfunction Articles:

Men with erectile dysfunction may face higher risk of death
Men with erectile dysfunction have a higher risk of death, regardless of their testosterone levels, suggests a study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, and publication in a special supplemental section of the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Factors associated with discontinuation of erectile dysfunction treatment
The factors associated with men ending treatment for erectile dysfunction have been reviewed in a study published in IJIR: Your Sexual Medicine Journal.
Concussions linked to erectile dysfunction in former NFL players
Former NFL players reporting concussion symptoms following head injury more likely to report erectile dysfunction and low testosterone levels.
Erectile dysfunction associated with lower work productivity in men
Erectile dysfunction (ED) was linked with loss of work productivity and with lower health-related quality of life in an International Journal of Clinical Practice study of more than 52,000 men from eight countries.
The global prevalence of erectile dysfunction
A review of published studies found that estimates for the global prevalence of erectile dysfunction vary widely, ranging from 3% to 76.5%.
Improved procedure for cancer-related erectile dysfunction
Melbourne surgeons have modified a minimally invasive technique to help men regain erectile function lost after prostate cancer surgery.
New discovery provides key to side effects caused by erectile dysfunction drugs
Study reveals several features of PDE6 that were previously unseen.
Convincing evidence that type 2 diabetes is a cause of erectile dysfunction
Evidence that type 2 diabetes is a cause of erectile dysfunction has been found in a large-scale genomic analysis.
First genetic risk factor for erectile dysfunction identified
For the first time, a team of researchers has found a specific place in the human genome that raises a person's risk of erectile dysfunction.
Genetic risk factor for erectile dysfunction identified
In a new study that ultimately analyzed the genomes of nearly a quarter of a million men, a research team including UC San Francisco scientists has discovered that variants at a single site on Chromosome 6 are associated with a significantly higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED).
More Erectile Dysfunction News and Erectile Dysfunction Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.