Medical Device Advertising: It’s Stenterrific!

If you’re sick and tired of pharmaceutical ads on TV, wait ’til you get a load of the next trend: marketing medical devices directly to consumers. From The New York Times:

The Cypher television spot might be mystifyingly vague to viewers who have never heard of stents, which are implanted in blood vessels to prop them open after blockages have been cleared. Cypher was designed for the vital network of arteries that keep the heart nourished with oxygen. The aim in using it is lasting relief from chest pains and shortness of breath, the symptoms of clogged coronary arteries known as angina.
A Cypher stent flashes across the screen during the spot, but there is no indication of its actual size or how it is implanted. Instead, Cordis strikes two themes: Cypher relieves pain and other angina symptoms (so talk to your doctor about it) and, when it comes to coronary stents, Cypher is the most studied and widely used.
Not surprisingly, the campaign has stirred criticism among doctors who oppose direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs and devices, and especially among doctors who contend that stents are being implanted too often in patients who might do better with other treatments.
“It’s deplorable,” said Dr. William E. Boden, a professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “You’ve got to wonder whether it’s a sign of desperation.”

Uh, it’s not a sign of desperation, it’s a sign of the times. There is big money in medical treatments, and doctors associated with certain devices often get big kickbacks from their manufacturers. So it’s to the manufacturer’s advantage to get their brand name out to the public.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.