Behind the stealth ad campaigns for the EpiPen and other drugs

Rebecca Robbins

Welcome to the world of unbranded ads, a stealthy and lightly regulated form of drug marketing focused on educating the public about a health condition — which the pharma company just happens to sell a product to treat. The ads aren’t required to disclose side effects. Instead, they often direct patients to a website about the disease. Click on a few links and you’ll likely land on a page promoting the branded treatment.

The tack has fluctuated in popularity over the years, but it seems to be on the upswing, perhaps in part because public distrust of the pharma industry is so high that drug makers are scrambling for ways to promote their products more subtly, analysts said.

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