I haven’t read a news story this amusing in awhile. An anti-AIDS group is suing Viagra manufacturer Pfizer. Pfizer is using sex appeal to sell a sex product, you see, and that’s just wrong.
Viagra is meant for old people, and old people sex doesn’t work so well in ads (remember Bob Dole?). So Pfizer uses 40- and 50-somethings to walk the line between “too young to appeal to ED suffers” and “too old for good TV.”
From the story:
“The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) told Reuters it wants Pfizer to be barred from marketing Viagra as a lifestyle or sexual enhancement drug. The nonprofit organization said Pfizer’s actions had led to risky behavior by men and an increase in HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”
“AHF, in its legal arguments, pointed to several Viagra promotions from recent years, including a 2005 newspaper ad that featured a smiling man asking, ‘What are you doing on New Year’s Eve?’
“Another ad that ran near the 2006 Super Bowl urged men to ‘Be this Sunday’s MVP’ and ask their doctors about Viagra.
“Pfizer’s Viagra Web site asks readers, ‘Want to improve your sex life?’ and says the drug can help men who have erection difficulties ‘once in a while.’”
And this is just hilarious:
“In 2004, the FDA objected to a television commercial suggesting Viagra could return a man to the ‘wild thing’ of his younger days. The FDA said the ad, showing a man sprouting devilish horns, made an unproven claim that men could regain a youthful level of sexual desire. Pfizer halted that campaign.”
I’ve made this point before, especially about gun control, but the fact is that in American law following the law does not exempt you from civil liability. It may be perfectly legal to have something dangerous in my yard, but if someone gets hurt on it I can still be sued.
However, some industries — like guns and drugs — are incredibly regulated. In these cases, following the law should provide immunity from civil lawsuits. Pfizer shouldn’t have to fear wacky you-cause-AIDS arguments after jumping through one bureaucratic hoop after another, including the requirement that all Viagra users obtain prescriptions first.
Those AIDS arguments are amusing enough in themselves. Any sexual product encourages sex, and sex transmits AIDS. If this lawsuit succeeds, a whole lot of companies could go down.
Robert VerBruggen blogs at http://www.therationale.com.