Botox Injects Astroturf into Anti-Tax Campaign

When Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes called Californians warning that a proposed state tax on Botox might lead to new taxes on other drugs, the group failed to disclose that it had been created by a PR firm working for Allergan Inc., the maker of Botox, according to the Sacramento Bee. The astroturf group was the work of Direct Impact, "a Virginia-based affiliate of global public relations giant Burston-Marsteller Inc., specializes in developing what its Web site calls 'grassroots communication marketing campaigns,'" the Bee's Andrew McIntosh writes. "The company had signed on with Irvine-based Allergan to quarterback a $400,000 lobbying effort aimed at convincing California consumers and state officials that Botox cosmetic products should not be hit by a state Board of Equalization sales tax." Among the deceptive features of Citizens Against Unfair Health Care Taxes campaign was the group's website - - which is registered to an employee of Burston-Marsteller's New York office. Neither Allergan's nor Burston-Marsteller's ties to the group, however, are disclosed on the website, McIntosh reports.