PR Firm's Paxil Campaign Draws Criticism

The Washingon Post reported NY-based PR firm Cohn & Wolfe's campaign for Glaxo SmithKline to promote its drug Paxil as a treatment for social anxiety disorder has raised concerns. The campaign calls into question whether pharmaceutical companies, traditionally in the business of finding new drugs for existing disorders, are increasingly in the business of seeking new disorders for existing drugs. The Post reports that because of C&W's work "media accounts of social anxiety rose from just 50 stories in 1997 and 1998 to more than 1 billion references in 1999 alone," and that 96% of those stories delivered the "key-message" that "Paxil is the first and only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of social anxiety disorder.'"