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Pharma Payola: Allergan Offers Reporters $250 to Get Rid of "Misperceptions"

Allergan (AGN) offered a journalist $250 for her "insight" into the facial aesthetics business, according to the Association of Health Care Journalists, which received a copy of an email in which the maker of Botox offers to pay writers to attend a conference. Freelance writer Lisa Collier Cool described the Allergan invite as "an all-time low in drug company promotion to the media."

The email said:

The goal of this Panel is to engage in a discussion about current facial aesthetics trends and innovations, perceived gaps in data, and any questions, concerns or misperceptions your readers may have about products and treatments. Allergan will provide an overview of the evolution of the facial aesthetics marketplace and then will open the panel for discussion.

As a seasoned reporter in this space, we would greatly value your feedback, and we'd like to offer you a stipend of $250 for your attendance and insights.

Allergan and its PR agency, Chandler Chicco, know better than this. Bribing reporters -- even under the guise of helping them correct "misperceptions" -- is wrong. Chandler Chicco says the whole thing has been misconstrued. The problem is that Allergan has a uniquely aggressive, often confrontational approach to marketing compared to other drug companies. The company cannot help itself:
It's telling that the $250 was offered to a freelancer who writes for women's magazines and not, for instance, someone at the Orange County Register (Allergan's hometown paper, which covers the company aggressively) or the Wall Street Journal. It suggests that Allergan feels freelancers who write service pieces are akin to mommy bloggers who don't have any objections to being compensated by the drug companies they write about.

(And BTW, where's my $250? I got your insights right here!)


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