Kids shouldn’t be targets for pharmaceutical sales pitches. That’s why we’re urging you to tell the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Merck & Co. Inc.’s Madagascar 3-themed Children’s Claritin® marketing.
Packaging for Merck’s Grape-Flavored Chewable Children’s Claritin® allergy medication features characters from Dreamwork’s new Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted movie, and each box offers “5 free stickers” to purchasers. Retail outlets are promoting mail-in movie ticket vouchers and downloadable Children’s Claritin® Madagascar-themed games on shelves alongside the medication. Merck officials claim these promotions are aimed at adults, but it’s clear the company is targeting children.
The FTC regulates over-the-counter drug marketing and has protected children from exploitative pharmaceutical marketing in the past. That’s why CCFC joined the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) and other health and advocacy organizations to call on the FTC to investigate Merck’s Madagascar campaign. As PHAI’s executive director, Mark Gottlieb, said, “Marketing medicine directly to children at all, much less through entertainment tie-ins, is well beyond the pale and is not only inherently unfair, it is downright dangerous.”
Adding to the danger is that the same Madagascar characters used to market Children’s Claritin® are being used to promote foods aimed at children. McDonald’s Happy Meals recently included Madagascar toys. Characters from the movie are also being used to market Fruit-flavored Airheads candy and General Mills (Betty Crocker label) Fruit Snacks, creating the risk that children will confuse the medication with candy.
Marketing pharmaceuticals to children is unfair and deceptive. Please tell the FTC to stop Merck from marketing Claritin® to kids.