Astroturf

Grass Roots Seeded by Drugmaker

"Showing all the signs of a thriving grass-roots movement, a host of new health-care groups are drawing attention to the perils of a contagious, sometimes lethal virus called hepatitis C," writes Robert O'Harrow. "But contrary to appearances, these coalitions are not spontaneous gatherings of concerned citizens. They are instead a key part of a carefully orchestrated marketing campaign funded by Schering-Plough Corp. to sell the primary therapy for hepatitis C, Rebetron, which costs $18,000 a year." Several members of the Hepatitis C Coalition are on the payroll of the Shandwick PR firm.

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