Drug company sets sights on our kids in a new low
For once I’m almost at a loss for words.
Big Pharma has reached a new low. And that’s really saying something, considering their typical methods.
Recently, Merck unveiled some new packaging for their top-selling allergy medication, Claritin. It features characters from the children’s movie “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.” Oh, and free stickers in the box.
To complete the “Hey, kids this is candy!” vibe, the drug comes in chewable grape-flavored pills as well as grape-flavored syrup.
Ten organizations, led by the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, immediately fired off a letter to the FTC about Merck’s blatant grab for children’s attention.
Obviously, the FTC discourages drug companies from marketing directly to children. So how in the world are these boxes even on the shelves? The same characters appear on several boxes in the candy aisle. So there’s a very serious risk of product confusion and what if a kid downs a whole box of Claritin thinking it’s candy?
Severe allergic reactions to Claritin can include rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, and severe or persistent dizziness.
Of course, personal responsibility is key. Parents shouldn’t put medications in places where kids can get them. But accidents do happen, and kids have a habit of zeroing in on exactly what they should be staying away from. And Merck certainly isn’t helping anyone avoid catastrophe here.
In fact, they’re completely denying any wrongdoing. Hilariously, their spokeswoman actually said “We advertise in appropriate venues to reach those parents of children who may benefit from the use of children’s Claritin, not to the children themselves.”
Oh yeah, because there’s nothing parents love more than free stickers!
You know, the only good that can come of this is a “teachable moment” for your kids or grandkids. Next time you’re grocery shopping, why not stop by the pharmacy and show the new packaging to your kid. Ask her why she thinks a company might put these characters on a box. It’s a good “in” to talking about how advertisers try to manipulate people into buying things.
P. S. You might have stopped using deodorants and cookware that contain aluminum, but is it enough? Keep reading.
“Public health group files FTC complaint about Merck’s ‘Madagascar 3′ marketing,” Philly.com (philly.com)
“Children’s Claritin Allergy Side Effects,” Drugs.com (drugs.com)