PHARMACY

PhRMA, health organizations release video ad pushing healthcare reform

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Six organizations representing a broad portion of the U.S. healthcare industry unveiled an advertisement Thursday to promote healthcare reform as a top priority for the incoming Obama Administration and the next Congress.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, the American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Families USA showed the 30-second ad at a press conference at the American Medical Association’s headquarters in Washington Thursday.

The ad focuses on the country’s manufacturing industries, opening with shots of decrepit factories and cobwebbed equipment, followed by shots of working factories with employees. It opens with the line, “At a time when American businesses are hurting, why should we worry about fixing health care? Because quality, affordable health care can save money and make businesses more competitive.”

The organizations plant to run the ad until Feb. 5, possibly later.

“Expanding access to quality and affordable health insurance is good for patients and good for our economy,” PhRMA president and CEO Billy Tauzin said in a statement released with the ad. “Improved access means we can do more to promote prevention and more to detect and treat conditions at an early stage, when we can do the most to avoid poor health outcomes and costly complications of chronic diseases, which account for seven out of every 10 deaths in America.”

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General Mills donates to charity and advertises through NBC’s ‘Biggest Loser’

BY Melissa Valliant

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. Major food manufacturer General Mills is backing NBC’s hit show “Biggest Loser” with its first-ever advertising slot for the show’s seventh season, which started Tuesday night. The spot will be viewed by approximately 8.6 million viewers, and fall 2008 showed a 2% rise in adult viewers ages 18 to 49, a demographic that advertisers often like to target. Nine other marketers from the show’s December season will also be advertising.

General Mills is also sponsoring a “Pound for Pound Challenge” in which the Cheerios and Progresso soup maker will be contributing 10 cents to Feeding America for every pound of weight loss pledged at biggestloser.com.

“This is our first integrated partnership of this kind,” said John Haugen, General Mills’ vice president of health and wellness. “We’re looking for a positive impact on all of our brands.”

Though popular (“Biggest Loser” averaged 8.9 million viewers last January), the show will be rivaling Fox’s incredibly successful “American Idol,” which begins next week and also airs Tuesday nights. Idol can bring in an audience of up to 25 million.

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Adventrx faces further workforce cuts

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO After laying off 55 percent of its workforce, Adventrx is planning further reductions in its employees to extend its remaining cash reserves, the company announced Monday.

The company said that in the end, it will have 14 employees. It has also reduced and delayed spending on third-party consulting and vendor services, including contract manufacturing.

The remaining employees will evaluate options for the future and continue the company?s study of the drug candidate ANX-514 (docetaxel emulsion) and submitting an approval application for the candidate ANX-530 (vinorelbine emulsion).

“It’s never easy to let go employees, particularly those who have been with the company for many years and who have made contributions to the company,” Adventrx board chairman Jack Lief said in a statement.

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