OPENING: TV is great at creating awareness, but it can also scare patients away if one of your side effects is “may lead to death.” This is one side effect that stands out when your target audience watches your spot along with “serious heart rhythm problems” and “new cancers have happened during treatment.”
I understand that DTC marketers are in love with TV even though it’s becoming less effective. Janssen Biotech’s TV ad for Imbruvica is downright scary. Among. The side effects:
Bleeding problems (hemorrhage) are common during treatment with IMBRUVICA® and can be severe and lead to death. Your risk of bleeding may increase if you are also taking a blood thinner medicine.
Heart problems. Serious heart rhythm problems (ventricular arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, and atrial flutter), heart failure, and death have happened in people treated with IMBRUVICA®, especially in people who have an increased risk for heart disease.
High blood pressure (hypertension). New or worsening high blood pressure has happened in people treated with IMBRUVICA®.
Second primary cancers. New cancers have happened during treatment with IMBRUVICA®, including cancers of the skin or other organs.
On top of these side effects is the common side effect of diarrhea.
A pessimist might say the option of doing nothing is death for patients with lymphocytic leukemia, but that’s a decision that needs to be made by the patient and their physician.
When a drug like this has side effects that are this severe, DTC marketing should be highly targeted. In my opinion, TV should not have been an option.
According to WebMD, “cancer treatment is intense on purpose. Doctors use every tool they have to get rid of, or at least control, your cancer. But choosing to stop treatment isn’t the same as “giving up.” “Deciding to stop treatment, when it may be causing more harm or suffering than good, is incredibly courageous,” says Philip A. Bialer, MD, a psychiatrist at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) in New York City.”
I do not doubt that Imbruvica may extend the life of some patients, but at what cost? For cancer patients, there is some dignity to living the rest of their life on THEIR terms, not worrying about deadly side effects. This is DTC that should not have been done on TV.