|LOS ANGELES (AFP) - An anti-AIDS organization slammed pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for running advertisements promoting the use of virility drug Viagra in connection with New Year's Eve celebrations.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, demanded Viagra producer Pfizer withdraw its advertising campaign that suggests Viagra use as a way to ring in the new year.
"What are you doing New Year's Eve?", says Pfizer's full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, showing a fit, middle-aged man with greying hair.
"Fact: Viagra can help guys with all degrees of erectile dysfunction -- from mild to severe," the ad text reads.
Weinstein branded Pfizer's campaign "irresponsible" and "reckless".
"It is an outrage that, by referencing the biggest party night of the year, Pfizer would employ an advertising strategy that encourages the use of Viagra as a 'party drug'," he said in a statement.
AHF said Pfizer is suggesting that having erectile dysfunction is not a prerequisite for obtaining a Viagra prescription.
This is "part of a pattern of irresponsible direct-to-consumer advertising by the drug industry," Weinstein said, citing other advertisements which portray AIDS therapies as simple and trouble-free.
But Pfizer spokesman Bryant Haskins insisted the advertising campaign targets only people truly suffering from erection problems.
"It is a serious medical condition that affects about 30 million American men, and Pfizer has worked hard to destigmatize the condition of erectile dysfunction," Haskins said.
"We have drawn on extensive research in an effort to motivate men to speak to their doctors about (erectile dysfunction), and that's part of what our advertising campaigns are about".
He also denied that the company's advertisements encourage unprotected sex.
"Contrary to allegations that the ads promote unsafe sex, our ads specifically urge readers to remember to protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted diseases."