Drug Makers Yank Vytorin TV Ads

Merck, Schering-Plough Suspend Broadcast Advertising for Two Cholesterol-Lowering Meds

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AdAge.com) -- Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. have yanked the popular "two sources" TV advertising campaign for cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin.
Vytorin Ad

While TV advertising for Vytorin has been suspend, print ads will continue, a Schering-Plough spokesman said.

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"We have voluntarily and temporarily suspended broadcast advertising for Vytorin and Zetia," Schering-Plough spokesman Lee Davies said this afternoon. Schering-Plough and Merck co-market Vytorin. "Vytorin and Zetia print advertising campaigns will continue in consumer print publications and in professional trade journalism," he said.

Mr. Davies declined to say how long the TV campaign, from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, would be suspended.

The two drug makers have been under fire since last week, when a study revealed that Vytorin, a combination of Zetia and Zocor, did not reduce buildup of fatty plaque in arteries as claimed. The study was completed in 2006, but the drug companies did not release the results for 21 months.

Among the most-recalled
The drug makers spent $102 million to market Vytorin through the first nine months of last year and spent $83 million on Zetia, according TNS Media Intelligence. The TV ads for Vytorin are consistently among the most-recalled by viewers, according to IAG Research, and often feature the opening phrase "There are two sources of cholesterol: food and family" and then launch into colorful, quirky vignettes that pair the two.

In the aftermath of the study, Merck and Schering began a patient-education campaign Sunday in national and select local daily markets featuring ads that tout Vytorin as safe. Mr. Davies declined to say which agency produced the ads or how long they would run.

"The new print campaign in newspapers has been initiated to demonstrate our support and commitment to the LDL-cholesterol-lowering efficacy and safety of Vytorin and Zetia," he said.
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