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Direct To Consumer Device Marketing Meets Social Media: Mirena House Parties And Mommy Bloggers

Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the Mirena IUD, has teamed up with the Mommy marketing site “Mom Central” to sponsor house parties to sell women the Mirena IUD.

According to a warning letter sent to Bayer by the FDA about the worded content of the events -

The Mirena program is a live presentation designed for a consumer audience of “busy moms.” The program is presented in a consumer’s home or other private setting (e.g. private restaurant party) by a representative from Mom Central (a social networking internet site) and a nurse practitioner (Ms. Barb Dehn). The Mirena program submitted to FDA also references a presentation given by a fashion stylist (Ms. Angela Hastings) that immediately follows Ms. Dehn’s presentation regarding the use of Mirena. The script of Ms. Hastings’ presentation regarding fashion tips was not submitted to FDA.

The events start with an intro by a Mom Central rep -

This party was brought to you by Mom Central in partnership with Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals’ Mirena which may help couples keep life simple!”…Barb Dehn is a practicing Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, award-winning author and nationally recognized health expert from San Francisco. Barb is going to kick things off with a discussion about romance and how to find simple ways to reconnect with our partners.”

Nurse Barb gets the group talking about intimacy by asking icebreaking questions that include the following -

“If you didn’t have to worry about contraception, do you think you would be more likely to be intimate with your partner?”

“Do you think if you didn’t have to worry about taking your birth control everyday, it would help you be more intimate?”

Then, this scripted segway -

“So you mentioned that convenience and reliability are among the most important benefits of your birth control method. One strategy that I recommend for busy couples is choosing a birth control method that allows for spontaneous intimacy and which you don’t have to think about every day, such as the intrauterine contraceptive Mirena®.”

The FDA letter goes on to cite the scripted Mirena info for failing to disclose all the relevant risks of Mirena.
Here’s how one Mommy blogger describes the Mirena party she hosted last year-

Mom Central had found me through this blog and asked me if I would be interested in hosting an event sponsored by Mirena. As I welcome any opportunity to sit down with some girlfriends with some free food and drink, I was happy to accept….We had an amazing evening, talking about sex, fashion, and living a simpler life. I realized that we don’t actually spend a lot of time talking about sex and relationships. We laughed a lot but also went home with some great tips

Using moms to sell pharmaceutucals? Bayer has gone too far.

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog that Ate Manhattan*


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2 Responses to “Direct To Consumer Device Marketing Meets Social Media: Mirena House Parties And Mommy Bloggers”

  1. Mindy says:

    Val, I’m sure I’ve already told you this story, but I have first-hand experience of a Mirena becoming partially dislodged and causing sudden hemorrhaging from a build-up of blood in the uterus due to the edges of the device scraping the uterine wall.

    It was not life threatening, did not affect my fertility, and I promptly had a new one inserted that has been fine for several years, but it is a good example of how something can go very wrong with a product that overall is suitable and appropriate for a defined candidate pool.

    I agree that Bayer went too far, and I am disappointed that bloggers I respect were not more diligent in their research and representation. This is the first example I’ve come across of a blogger or company being caught out in violation of the FTC ruling prohibiting false claims or presentation of insufficient information in a promotion.

    I’ve been interviewed numerous times on the ruling, and couldn’t see how it could go sideways, if a company and blogger together are aware of and savvy enough to comply with this ruling. Thanks for posting it to show how two sophisticated outfits can get it so wrong – I’m sending the link around, first and foremost to Momversation.com, where I hope they will consider doing a show on the topic.

  2. Shelby says:

    Bayer using moms to sell their product may seem less than scrupulous, but it is shrewd, and there is no law against being a shrewd businessman. Given Mirena’s chequered history following thousands of reports filed by women regarding their experience with side-effects from Mirena-use I’d say that the women from Momcentral.com also have a right to know about the other side of Mirena besides the approved tagline from Bayer. Read more about Mirena’s side effects here mirena-iud.net .

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