Big Pharma Pushing CLL Drugs On US Television!... - CLL Support

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Big Pharma Pushing CLL Drugs On US Television!! Buy! Buy!

DanBro1 profile image

Why is it if you are a drug dealer pushing drugs that you go to jail... but if you are Big Pharma you can go on national TV and push them with impunity??? Check out this new CLL drug ad I saw on the History Channel yesterday.....

24 Replies

I wish I saw this advertisement before my uninformed oncologist prescribed chemotherapy. Quite frankly, it would have been the best advertisement I’d ever seen.



imbruvica on insurance under 65 gets totally paid by manufacturer. on medicare they are not allowed to do this. you want the democrats to put a cap on medicare part d out of pocket since they are now in charge

AussieNeil profile image

Direct-to-consumer advertising is only completely legal in New Zealand and the United States. Per:

"There are ethical and regulatory concerns regarding DTCA, specifically the extent to which these ads may unduly influence the prescribing of the prescriptions based on consumer demands when, in some cases, they may not be medically necessary, or there are cheaper options available. Critics of DTCA have argued that too much is spent on marketing medications, rather than into research and development; in the United States, ad spending by drugmakers reached US$5.2 billion in 2016"

In the USA, "Under the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), direct-to-consumer "product claim" advertisements for a prescription medication must include information on their major side effects and contraindications in the main body, with a "fair balance" in its coverage of benefits to risks. Unless they are given "adequate provision" via a variety of different outlets, ads must also include a "brief summary" of all risks associated with the medication. In print ads within magazines, this summary is typically given on a second page.[25][7] Print ads must contain a standard notice that instructs patients to report negative side effects and adverse events to the FDA's MedWatch program. In ads carried on broadcast media, such as television commercials, only the major side effects are typically listed, and the ad contains blurbs directing viewers to where they can obtain more information (the aforementioned "brief summary"), such as on a web page or current magazine issue. If the drug is subject to a boxed warning from the FDA (which indicates a serious risk), the warning must be reproduced in all advertising materials, and reminder ads for the drug are prohibited.[4][5][6][7]

If an advertisement does not contain health claims, it does not fall under the FDA's jurisdiction, but can still be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission."

I couldn't believe this when I first saw it on US TV - in particular how rapidly the major side effects were rushed through at the end of the adverts. I've never been approached by a drug dealer, but no doubt in the USA, they also take the time to inform me of major side effects and contraindications :) .

The Youtube advertisement you linked is unavailable in Australia (and I expect outside of the USA).


Wouldn't it be perfect if we had drugs with no side effects what so ever? this is why im so afraid of the treatments. But like alt of people say "the benefits outweighs thre risk".

Funny, can't watch the video in Germany neither.

LeoPa profile image
LeoPa in reply to Germanguest

you can watch it on YouTube.

Vakraas profile image
Vakraas in reply to AussieNeil

I was just able to watch the advert in the UK.

I have family in the US, so I've seen this type of advert before. My favourites are the ones for medication apparently designed to treat the side effects of other medication (though you have to listen carefully to realise that's what's going on).

I was fascinated when I saw this commercial primarily because it means that there is a large market for imbruvica. (I've been taking it for 4 years and it works well for me). I found the list of possible side effects to be accurate, and the stat about death rate vs chemo to be interesting but slightly misleading. I am surprised that people could learn about imbruvica through an advertisement, rather than through a physician though.

I bet they started spending money on advertising because the competition is heating up

Jm954 profile image
Jm954Administrator in reply to MaxSmart

Offset the cost of advertising against tax too?

Jm954 profile image

Most importantly, you still cannot get Imbruvica unless your doctor prescribes it, so there are safeguards in that regard.

Given that there seem to be plenty of oncologists treating CLL/SLL with inappropriate chemotherapy in the USA in particular, I'm not opposed to awareness raising re this drug which is what I think it's doing.

The advert went on and on detailing all the possible side effects which would be enough to put many people off quite frankly. The narrative seemed to be straight from the package insert with no 'dressing' up or down of the benefits and side effects.

I'm glad we don't have this advertising in the UK and we are much more regulated in terms what can and can't be prescribed.

Having said that, the point AussieNeil made about pharma reps paying visits to doctors is a useful one. I have been present in those visits and meetings and my experience is that the reps are careful not to cross any regulatory boundary. Once again, it's more about awareness raising and to provide information to various members of the team, including nurses who are administering and pharmacists who are dispensing, about best practice and potential reactions/issues to be aware of. Often they provide drug specific patient information booklets that the nurses give to the patients and they are much appreciated.

There are many sides to this, good and bad.


HopeME profile image
HopeME in reply to Jm954

You always offer an informed and thoughtful perspective Jackie. Interestingly, I can’t recall the last pharmaceutical ad I saw but I’m sure I’ve learned to tune them out. I will also say that I’ve never seen one go and on about the side effects like this one did. Pharmaceutical adds are always condensed into 30 or 60 second segments.



Wow this ad is more like a deterrent. Nice pics and music but listening to the list of side effects is downright scary.

This is very disturbing. They should reduce the cost of the outrageously priced drug, rather than paying for commercials.

luvdog profile image
luvdog in reply to Eagles1

This is exactly what I thought when I saw the ad!

Eagles1 profile image
Eagles1 in reply to luvdog

They must be concerned that Acaclabrutinib and Zanibutinib (once approved for CLL) are going to take away their market share.

luvdog profile image
luvdog in reply to Eagles1

wasting $$ on the ads really annoys me. The decision as to what meds work for a patient need to be made by the hemotologist/oncologist and patient who need to keep up to date with the available meds. (I'll step off of my soap box now)


Forgive my passionate harshness, however, myself and many others may have suffered inexpressibly if it were not for "Big Pharma" whatever "Big Parma" means.

Would you prefer that those who spend Billions and devote their entire life to helping others just start up a pot shop and pass out heroin? Who do you think "Big Pharma" is that they should be compared to murderes like Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and many of that kind? I have a dear friend who's young son was murdered by one of these so called drug dealers. There is no comparison.

I know hundreds of these people in medical research personally, and they are far from being drug pushers. Many of them were motivated to this work because they lost a loved one to a horrible cancer, and they only desire to find a cure. Everyone of the involved people that I know are of outstanding character who work tirelessly. They donate time, money and not as to get notice. In addition, the majority of clinical trials and the desirable outcomes that we benefit from are the result of so called "Big Pharma" efforts.

I would wager a bet of confidence that "Big Pharma" support includes "all" of the leading personalities that we provide credible references from on this sight. Every single research doctor is involved and thousands of nurses, techs and the like from every country, race, gender, and religion support the pharmaceutical research effort. Every single credible research paper and Nih approved drug is the result of their efforts. Groups like Patient Power,, and the list goes on. Do not be deceived, illegal drug pushers are not providing quality of life nor finding a cure for cancer and they deserve no credit for such good.

"Big Pharma" is primarily doctors who are the compassionate ones that give all, and have spent the fruit of their youth studying intently, sacrificing the carefree non-committing lifestyle that most take for granted. It is they who develop relationships with children, elderly, young couples just getting starting, and people from every walk of life who look to them in desperation for hope only to become the messenger of doom when their treatment fails.

The instances of abuse that we see propagated through the media that become bigger than life are actually rare in comparison to the good that is hardly ever disclosed, and is a small representation of what big pharma is. This is where the "Big pharma" stigma comes from. Bias propagated by TV programs like 60 minutes and 48 hours which only represent select legal segments that are designed to influence mass audiences that journalists are the primary protectors of humanity so that they can sell more viewing, when in fact all of the protections are put in place and enforced by government regulatory bodies. In the U.S "Big Pharma" takes it directive from the CDC and works closely with The National institutes of Health. Have you ever heard of the Federal Code of Regulations? The highly complex molecular discoveries that produce life saving products like venclexta are not the product of thousands of typewriters and cameras putting the Sunday edition together.

Any industry has shortcomings, however, anyone who believes that the goal of the Pharmaceutical Industry is to create suffering at the expense of the ill has not participated in the better effort, but rather chooses the lesser path. If anyone here believes it to be so, I challenge you to set aside the TV narrative and become personally involved in a research curative effort for one year. If after doing so would you then still perceive the notion, please publish your findings in accurate detail defining the offenders without the label.

I believe a more accurate statement would be to say that those in the research and pharmaceutical profession are dedicated to helping people live better with the exception of a few lawyers and executives.

I am humbled and grateful for the efforts of the many dedicated people in the medical profession "Big Pharma" that substantiated my hope. I hope for more desirable outcomes for everyone through the continuation of this same commitment that has been driving the dynamic in Novel treatments for CLL. The likes of Abbvie, Genetech, AstraZeneca, etc..

Bear in mind that labels like "Big Pharma" and companies like Abbvie are actually people, thousands of people, mostly dedicated, caring, brilliant people.

Here is my contribution in part -

Please focus on the good and do not give credit where it is not due, even if it is the consensus.

These people really do care, and they are working hard to help us all live better.

Wonder why drugs cost so much in the U.S. ? 70% of the world lawyers are in the U.S. Future lawsuits are built into the price.


AussieNeil profile image
AussieNeilAdministrator in reply to Smakwater

To put the research effort committed by the scientists and doctors involved into achieving approval for two very important CLL drugs:-

1) Venetoclax came out of a discovery in 1989 at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne Australia. It was finally approved for CLL treatment b the FDA in 2019 - 30 years later!

Early research was in part funded through a research grant provided by the Australian Leukaemia Foundation from public donations. A clinical trial of an earlier BCL-2 inhibitor version for CLL didn't make it, because it wasn't selective enough and hit platelet counts fairly hard.

2) Rituximab came out of early 1980s research and was approved by the FDA for CLL treatment in 2010, again, nearly 30 years after the initial research.

Let's not forget the contribution of those with CLL who took the personal risk to their lives in volunteering for clinical trials, in particular those involved in the Phase 2 trials, where dose escalations were done to find out if there was an effective dose without unacceptable side effects and adverse events.



Smakwater profile image
Smakwater in reply to AussieNeil

Thank you for additional insight for drug development and patient participation.

In complement to your response Neil, my commentary indirectly implies the same. As implied, the effort goes beyond just doctors and patients, however, this does not include illegal drug pushers. There are dedicated people from many other sources who in joining the greater effort who from doing so have learned that the label "Big Pharma" reduces their good works and gratifies notoriety to the few fraudulent greedy imposters in the industry whose improprieties have hijacked rewarding their medical achievements.

My main point in the original commentary is to contrast drug dealers and the developers of life saving drugs, and to provide opportunity for anyone who can prove otherwise to do so. I am of the view that there is no common ground between illegal drug distributers and compliant medical research groups.

My second point is that science in truth does not support illegal drug use over extensively researched and highly regulated prescriptions even if a media source states differently.

Well said. 7 years ago there was very little available for some of us cll’ers. So, I’ll take the ads any day

Smakwater, I totally agree with your premise that there are thousands of dedicated workers in the healthcare industry who work tirelessly in the research area and in the physical delivery of medical services. How you came up with the conclusion that Business Greed and a hard-working research and medical professionals are the same entity is beyond me. In fact, you echo former congressman Billy Tauzin's comments when he was accused of being corrupt and on the take when he inserted a provision in the Medicare law that prevents Medicare from taking competitive bids for drugs, thereby costing me and ALL other US citizens who pay taxes BILLIONS of extra dollars out of our pockets to "Big Pharma". He said he did it because "Big Pharma" needed big profits to operate efficiently. As he then went to work as their Washington lobbyist at a salary of $2 million dollars a year. The reason the US has the highest drug prices in the world is because "Big Pharma" and US Health Insurance Corporations own the US congress. It has nothing to do with lawyers. "Big Pharma" and insurance companies don't get away with their exploiting and abusing the system in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, or any other civilized country. Only the United States. And we pay dearly for it.

Smakwater profile image
Smakwater in reply to DanBro1

You cannot tell tell someone something that they already know.

Your post states clearly your intension, to which I have no further response.

In short DanBro1,

If Big Pharma brakes the law, somebody in big pharma goes to jail, because they are now no different than a drug dealer pushing drugs.


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