Damage control 15. December 2007 William Davis (5) Medical device manufacturer, Cordis, is launching a new marketing program to promote its Cypher drug-coated stent. You can view the details at www.CypherUSA.com , including the slick TV commercial that HeartHawk posted a blog about.The campaign opens with:When you open up your heart, you open up your life.Lives hampered by angina. By shortness of breath. By restricted blood flow. These lives are changing. Because of a state-of-the-art advancement. One that can have a huge impact on arteries around your heart. The CYPHER® Stent. It can open up your arteries. Increase flow of blood and oxygen. And change your restricted life. To an active life worth living. Your new life is...Life Wide OpenDirect-to-consumer drug advertising has been around for a few years. While it has increased awareness of drugs and the "conditions" they are supposed to treat, it has also highlighted the aggressive profit-motive of the drug industry. This is not health care for the needy and sick, but health care for profit.So now we're beginning to see the emergence of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for medical devices. There was also a brief, though unsuccessful, foray into DTC advertising for implantable defibrillators, of all things, by Medtronic a couple of years ago, also.What is the purpose of Cordis' marketing effort? Is it to educate and inform the public who might unknowingly receive non-drug coated stents and be deprived of the restenosis-inhibiting advantage of a drug-coated device? Is it meant to right a systematic wrong, a failure of cardiologists to insert the technologically, biologically, and ethically superior coated stents?I find that doubtful. A more likely motive is damage control. With some of the (both deserved and undeserved) negative press the drug-coated stents have received lately, Cordis, eager to protect their $20 billion (annual revenues, 2006) medical device franchise, came up with this DTC strategy. After viewing the smiling faces of people , elated because of their "wide open" arteries and lives, Cordis hopes to see people going to their doctors insisting on the stent that is "opening millions of lives," since, "when your arteries narrow, so does your life." Cool, trendy, liberating. That's the message they wish to deliver. Cool music, beautiful people, flashy high-tech images. Who wouldn't want a Cypher stent?Beyond damage control, it's a familiar marketing theme: You're slender, glamorous, and sexy if you drink Coke, you're a caring mother if you feed your children Jif peanut butter, you're health conscious and smart if you eat Total cereal . . . you're cool and know what you want from life if you insist on a Cypher stent.I don't object to advertising. It's part of the capitalistic economic system. It drives awareness and grows businesses. I do get concerned when advertising is so slick and effective that the people who are not properly armed with information can be duped into thinking that they need something that they don't really need. Or, for which there are powerful, viable alternatives. Even hear about "prevent the disease in the first place?"