FDA Okays Licensing Deals Between Big Pharma, Snack Makers
A collective of major pharmaceutical companies has struck innovative branding deals with companies like Frito-Lay, PEZ candies and Hartz pet products to reinvent their soon-to-be generic medications. The new marketing and distribution plan will extend the value of the drugs for the parent companies as their patents expire. The FDA has granted its approval to the deal.
Pfizer’s Lipitor, the mammoth selling ($10 billion in 2010 alone) blood pressure regulating drug coming off patent next month, will be available in generic form and a new, pork-flavored Hartz chew toy for humans. One “LipStick” will deliver the same dosage as four of the tablets. Test groups have enthusiastically received the new versions of their favorite prescription drugs.
Likewise, PEZ versions of antidepressants Paxil, Prozac, and Abilify will hit the market in the spring, with multiple licensed “character” dispensers of Patrick Dempsey and Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie). Alfred Malcamper, a publicist for GlaxoSmithKline, calls the company’s deal “the best thing to happen since pill cutters.”
“People will love [PEZ medications] and they’re a real conversation starter,” Malcamper said. “Consumers will be willing to forego the generic stuff and go full-pop for a McDreamy [Patrick Dempsey’s character on the medical show Grey’s Anatomy], y’know?” When asked of the dangers of such high-potency drugs being marketed as candy and snacks, Malcamper called the question “irrelevant.” “Consumers are savvy enough to know best how to control and administer their prescriptions,” he said. “I don’t see the problem.”
Ed Freedlow of the Consumer Protection Agency has called the deal “irresponsible.” “I don’t know what the FDA was thinking,” he said. “Here we have all these restrictions and protections, and all the FDA has to say is that they think it’s really cute.” Several unnamed celebrities have already been signed as national spokespeople for the new products, which will “hopefully have a longer shelf life than the celebrities” Freedlow said.