Valtrex Commercial Controversy
years ago herpes was a word that was reserved for the doctor's office
or the boy's locker room. Today you can hear the words genital herpes
during commercials for your favorite television show. The Valtrex
commercials for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. You see a
couple walking hand in hand down the beach while the female talks about
how having herpes doesn't have to negatively affect your life.
discovered that the annoying cold sores that I have experienced for the
last twenty seven years were in fact Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1. At the
time, I experienced a range of negative emotions that many people feel
when they have been positively diagnosed with herpes. It was only
because of a verbal smack down by a close personal friend that I was able to
realize that I have lived with the virus for most of my life. Nothing
about me had changed just because I had a medical name for the virus. I
decided to do research and found an online support group through the web
called Picking up the Pieces.
Up until my own herpes status
was confirmed, I never paid attention to the commercials regarding
Valtrex. The product did not pertain to me, but according to the Center
for Disease Control "Nationwide, at least 45 million people ages 12 and
older, or 1 out of 5 adolescents and adults, have had genital HSV
infection." (www.cdc.gov) we are
talking about 22% of the population of the United States.
(Zacharioudakis, Manos A., 2001, p. 109) At this time, I don't feel it
necessary to treat my HSV with antiviral therapy. If I had contracted
HSV as an adult, I may feel differently.
In talking to people who have
tested positive for HSV, I have found that they feel very strongly
either one way or another about the Valtrex commercials. Either they
think GlaxoSmithKline is making positive strides in showing how life
goes on, or they feel that the commercials could be done differently. No
matter the opinion, there doesn't seem to be any middle ground; either
people love them or hate them.
It is felt by some that
GlaxoSmithKline has a responsibility to educate the general public about
statistics, transmission rates, and other medical facts regarding
herpes. That by not educating the public GlaxoSmithKline has not lived
up to their responsibility in public education. It is felt that the
Valtrex commercials show that the female is more concerned with having
sex sooner rather then dealing with the pain or irritation of having a
genital herpes outbreak.
GlaxoSmithKline is taking
steps in educating medical professionals. They pay to educate and
transport specialists across the country to hold seminars with medical
professionals. On their website www.valtrex.com, they have a variety of information from how to
reduce the transmission as well as outbreaks. They also have tips on how
to live with genital herpes.
Is GlaxoSmithKline taking
advantage of the saying that sex sells? It is felt that rather then
showing that the main advantages are taking Valtrex antiviral therapy
for episodic outbreaks or as suppressive therapy to prevent outbreaks
and lessen occurrences of asymptotic shedding, the commercials are
implying that the woman in question is taking the product so that she
can have sex sooner. Rather then showing that Valtrex reduces the
physical pain and discomfort as well as emotional and mental anguish,
GlaxoSmithKline is showing that there is life after herpes. No one takes
exception to the Abreva commercials where the lady wants to speed
healing of her cold sore so that she can go on vacation. This is the
same virus, just a different strain and location. No one says herpes in
the Abreva commercials.
Let's face it, herpes is a sexually
transmitted virus. The primary aspect of our lives affected by
HSV-2 is our genitals. When you see a commercial for any other product,
you see them actually using the product; from cellular phones to allergy
medications. Valtrex commercials show that her life hasn't ended, which
is one of the major thoughts that people first have when they find out
they have herpes.
Is it the responsibility of
GlaxoSmithKline to educate the public about herpes? The company already
pays to educate medical professionals, works in 5 different ways to
assist low income patients to receive medications at a reduced cost or
in some cases even free. Valtrex.com, as well as offering education to
the general public on their web site. This information is available in
areas such as preventing the transmission of the virus and how to have "The
Talk" with a potential sexual partner.
As the consumer we directly
tell the companies out there exactly how we feel about their
commercials. Take Wendy's for example, since the death of founder David
Thomas; Wendy's embarked on a new marketing strategy "Mr. Wendy's", the
unofficial spokesman. This advertising campaign differed from Wendy's
past campaigns where they focused on the food. It was announced Thursday
November 4th 2004 that the Mr. Wendy's campaign has been
canceled. According to Wendys.com earnings for 2004 are down by 10%.
This is an example of the customer has spoken.
A more recent controversy
I've noticed regarding the Valtrex commercials is whether the couple
actually has herpes. I used the Google search engine to research
"Valtrex Commercials". This search brought up a full page of different
web boards where they discuss the Valtrex couple and their herpes
status. So I actually went reading these pages and found some
interesting quotes. It would seem that N. A. from www.commercialsihate.com
wants to know what swing set they are using in the commercials so that
he can avoid it. "What I want to know is where this swing is so I can
avoid it and not sit on it" or that he feels he needs to avoid public
pools because of a woman who has herpes swims in them.
It seems to me that this same
man needs to think about who's been sleeping on the hotel bed before him
when he goes on vacation. A little research available from a variety of
web sites and he would see that he can not contract herpes from sitting
on a swing set or even a public toilet seat. You can not get herpes from
swimming in a public pool. The social stigma that goes along with herpes
seems to be worse then the actual virus.
As a company, GlaxoSmithKline
is concerned with profit. The company has gone out of their way to
assist those who have tested positive for the herpes virus. It is not
the responsibility of one company to change the world. I personally feel
that GlaxoSmithKline has gone above and beyond the call of a simple
pharmaceutical company in regards to their product Valtrex and genital
herpes care in general.