Roche CEO criticizes TV advertising

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Consumer advertising “was the single worst decision for the industry,” according to Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO William Burns at a conference in London early last month.

Burns cast doubt on industry claims that R&D spending far outpaces ad spend, saying: “When industry says we're spending all the money on R&D but actually it's spending it on TV advertising to preserve margins, it doesn't get much credibility.” Burns' stinging remarks, made at a Financial Times conference, were reported by Reuters. 

His condemnation of consumer advertising was echoed by Shire CEO Angus Russell.

Burns went on to lambaste the marketing of me-too drugs, saying “the marginally-different-and-market-it-like-hell model is over,” but called for a liberalization of strict limits on consumer communication in Europe. 

“You've got two extremes on the planet,” said Burns, “where we are given access to the public in America, which is too much, and in Europe we're not given access to information.”

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