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Author Topic: Weird "gay warning" in drug commerical.
Joe Bentley
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Lately GlaxoSmithKline, the drug company giant, is running a television ad for the herpes drug Valtrex, one of the company's most popular products.

It's a pretty standard drug commercial, filled with pretty, happy, smiling people who lives are just so wonderful. Almost makes me want to get herpes so I could be as happy as them, but I digress.

Anywho the thing is during this commercial a disclamer runs along the bottom of the screen that says "This drug has only tested on heterosexual couples." (or something to that effect)

Ahh... what? Am I missing something here? What possible purpose could this warning serve? Valtrex (generic name Valaciclovir) is a anti-viral agent for treating herpes outbreaks, how could it possibly effect homosexual couples any differently then heterosexual couples?

It just seems like such an arbitrary warning to me, as if they had plastered "Warning: This Product Hasn't Been Tested on Left Handed Jewish Surfers!" on the bottom of the screen.

I am honestly confused as to what purpose this warning it meant to serve. Is someone at Glaxo really concered that some gay person is going to give their partner herpes while on Valtrex and sue the company?

I mean from what I understand they are very slight differences in the possibility of transmittal between anal sex, oral sex, and vaginal sex since blood, saliva, vaginal fluids and the internal walls of the anus, mouth, and vagina all have different chances of allowing a foreign agent to pass through, but the warning didn't say that the drug hadn't been tested on couples that engage in anal sex, which many heterosexual couples do and many homosexual couples do not, but specifically called out homosexual couples.

I mean it's not like Valtrex treats herpes... it just suppresses the outbreaks and reduces the changes of spreading it. I seriously cannot think of a single factor that could cause it to react differently in homosexual couples.

The slightly paranoid side of me is almost tempted to see this as a subtle anti-homosexual jabs... sorta a "Be careful gay people, our wonder drug might not protect you during your dirty butt sex" or something...

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Amigone201
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quote:
Joe:
I mean from what I understand they are very slight differences in the possibility of transmittal between anal sex, oral sex, and vaginal sex since blood, saliva, vaginal fluids and the internal walls of the anus, mouth, and vagina all have different chances of allowing a foreign agent to pass through, but the warning didn't say that the drug hadn't been tested on couples that engage in anal sex, which many heterosexual couples do and many homosexual couples do not, but specifically called out homosexual couples.

You might have hit the nail on the head here. They're not gonna say "anal sex" on TV, but they might want to make people aware of the differences in the likelihood of contracting diseases based on different types of behavior. Sexuality is a shorthand (and a safer euphemism) for "buttsex."

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LeaflessMapleTree
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I concur. It sounds like ass-covering paranoia, though. I doubt they are trying to consciously take a jibe at gays, but it does come across as paranoid.

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emperor_genghis_khan
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Well my guess would be that since it was tested on heterosexual couples, it is a liabliity disclamer for exactly what u said.

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Kitty Penguin
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quote:
Originally posted by emperor_genghis_khan:
Well my guess would be that since it was tested on heterosexual couples, it is a liabliity disclamer for exactly what u said.

I wonder why that would matter, since heteros and homos basically engage in the same stuff.... :\

Sounds like a weird jab to me.... but why... woah.

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Spamamander in a pear tree
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You mean... straight people have TEH BUTTSEX??

I agree, it does sound like a jab. I'm erring on the side of caution and thinking it is intended to demonstrate that it hasn't been tested effectively in regards to penile/ rectal transmission, but since anal sex is not exclusively engaged in by TEH GAY people I think it causes more confusion than it fixes. Surely if we've become open enough to have Republican spokesmen for Viagra and these ads for STD treatments to begin with, they can find a tactful, scientfic terminology for anal/ genital contact.

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NorthernLite
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quote:
Originally posted by MapleLeaf:
I concur. It sounds like ass-covering paranoia, though. I doubt they are trying to consciously take a jibe at gays, but it does come across as paranoid.

Sorta like "We're covering our ass in case you don't cover yours"

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martin-at-work
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quote:
Originally posted by Spamamander, the home game:
... but since anal sex is not exclusively engaged in by TEH GAY people

And hardly at all by lesbians...
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ThistleSoftware
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Couldn't they just say "This product has not been tested on anal/ genital contact"? Surely if they can say "anal leakage" on television they can say "anal/genital".

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Elsie
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But, "anal leakage" is a joke, while "anal/genital" suggests a type of sexual contact that most people don't want to have to explain to their kids.

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Roadie
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But if the purpose of the statement is to limit the company's liability for anal/genital transmission, that purpose is not served by putting it in some strange, confusing "code" that doesn't cover their ass, anyway. If a hetero couple transmits herpes during anal sex, they can say the company tested on heteros, and they should be fine. If teh gay couple transmits during any type of sex, the company can say they never tested for "that type" of sex, even though "that type" is not necessarily different from hetero sex. Sounds to me like a very discriminatory poor attempt at a disclaimer.

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Doug4.7
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quote:
Originally posted by Joe Bentley:
Is someone at Glaxo really concered that some gay person is going to give their partner herpes while on Valtrex and sue the company?

In a word, yes.

It sounds like the drug was only tested on hetero couples, so, in a fit of truth in advertising (which, I admit is rare these days), they SAID it was only tested on hetero couples.

I don't see the problem.

Of course, if I were reviewing the research paper that lead to this commercial, I would have rejected it based on that fundamental flaw. Not testing on such a significant chunk of the population makes me wonder how good the rest of the study was.

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bthyb
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quote:
Originally posted by Doug4.7:

It sounds like the drug was only tested on hetero couples, so, in a fit of truth in advertising (which, I admit is rare these days), they SAID it was only tested on hetero couples.

I don't see the problem.

Of course, if I were reviewing the research paper that lead to this commercial, I would have rejected it based on that fundamental flaw. Not testing on such a significant chunk of the population makes me wonder how good the rest of the study was.

I don't agree that a study tested on only part of a population is invalid - it just must be made clear that the study was limited in this way (as GSC seems to be doing). However, I question whether it is responsible of the drug company to release this medication without conducting a study testing the effectiveness of the medication on homosexual couple.

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Rhiandmoi
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Well considering we don't really know what makes people gay and there could be actual bioligical differences in immune systems and other factors affecting the transmission of herpes that are associated with homosexuality I don't see the problem. There are medications that work better for certain people and we don't really know why. To say that a drug hasn't been tested on homosexuals I think might be controversial because it plays into homosexuality being a real biological difference that might affect other things besides what you like to do with your naughty bits.

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ThistleSoftware
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quote:
Originally posted by Elsie:
But, "anal leakage" is a joke, while "anal/genital" suggests a type of sexual contact that most people don't want to have to explain to their kids.

Anal leakage is not a joke, it is a real side effect of some products.

Frankly I would think a company that is worried about being sued for malpractice versus being sued for exposing children to a phrase that their parents wouldn't want to explain to them would go with the latter option. Apparently I am wrong.

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Kev
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http://us.gsk.com/products/assets/us_valtrex.pdf

This shows two different types of clinical trials. One type studying the effectivness of reducing outbreaks and one studying the effectiveness of reducing transmission. The transmission study is the one where it specifies they only tested heterosexual couples. So in the commercial, probably during the part where they make a claim about reducing risk of transmission, it states the fact that they did not test it on homosexual couples. It's really that simple.

They gave the drug to heterosexual couples who had whatever kind of sex they normally have for the eight month period.

There are lots of differences between heterosexual and homosexual couples that could make a difference. For instance (completely hypothetical), say the risk of transmission is greatest when performing oral sex on a man, and being the receptive partner in vaginal or anal sex. Obviously in a heterosexual couple, the woman would be the only person either of those applies to, so assuming the couple engaged in at least one of those activities, the risk of male to female transmission would be greater than female to male transmission. In a homosexual male couple two of the high risk activities could apply to either partner. There is no built in bias towards one partner or the other. The only thing that changes the relative risk is the actual practice.

Now, I made my example particulary biased against the female to make the point clear. Even if heterosexual and homosexual couples engage in exactly the same sexual activity there can still be a difference in the rate of transmission depending on which person is infected. That difference could make the effectiveness of the drug for each group different. The difference is not necessarily in the type of sex, but who is having it.

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