The Wall Street Journal
December 17, 2009
New Delhi: India’s drugs regulator has put GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s (GSK) cervical cancer vaccine “awareness” advertisements under the scanner, following a similar move against emergency contraceptive commercials.
“We will issue a show-cause notice to GSK and also write to the state authorities about these ads. They (GSK) say the vaccine will be effective for cervical cancer. This kind of advertising is not allowed,” said Surinder Singh, drugs controller general of India. “The ad can send a wrong message to the public also that by getting this vaccine the cancer can be prevented. And these vaccines are not cheap.”
This comes as the ministry of health considers a suspension of advertisements by Cipla Ltd and Mankind Pharma for emergency contraceptives, as their approval was not notified in the official gazette.
“As per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, no person can claim to prevent or cure diseases in Schedule J of the Act, which includes cancer,” said Manoj Tongra, drugs inspector in Rajasthan. “GSK’s ad clearly claims that vaccination can prevent cervical cancer, so it doesn’t matter that they don’t name the vaccine.”
Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, drugs sold under prescription cannot be advertised and this includes vaccines. India only allows advertisement of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.