Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cancer Society Lured by Bucks Lends Its Name to Two Products

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cancer Society Lured by Bucks Lends Its Name to Two Products

Article excerpt

The American Cancer Society is selling its name to two corporate giants, offering an exclusive endorsement to NicoDerm anti-smoking patches and Florida orange juice for at least $4 million in sales royalties.

Ethical watchdogs protested the endorsements Friday, saying the society may seriously hurt its credibility.

"If they want to endorse products, they should do it in the spirit of an educational agency, not as a paid shill," said Paul Root Wolpe of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

The deals - part of a rising trend of partnerships between non-profit groups and companies - will provide the society with needed cash to boost its cancer-fighting programs at a time when donations are stagnant.

They also give the marketers of these products instant credibility through their association with one of the nation's most respected health groups.

But if the trend accelerates, Wolpe predicted medical organizations will some day be endorsing everything from tires and chewing gum to sneakers.

"We're going to end up with the health equivalent of the Olympics," he said, adding, "On the other hand, I deeply understand the temptation."

That temptation snagged its last big medical association two years ago when the Arthritis Foundation signed a $1 million deal with the makers of Tylenol to sell a line of painkillers with the foundation's name on the boxes.

Friday's deal was announced in conjunction with the national introduction of NicoDerm CQ, the second nicotine patch to be made available as an over-the-counter drug.

SmithKline Beecham PLC, the big British-based drug manufacturer, will pay the cancer society at least $1 million a year in sales royalties for three years. In exchange, the society's logo will appear on NicoDerm CQ boxes and advertising, along with a reference to the two as partners in promoting smoking cessation.

In a similar deal, the Florida citrus marketers association agreed to pay the society at least $1 million for one year.

"After very serious consideration and review, we determined that companies that are producing products that support the missions or programs of the American Cancer Society would be acceptable business partners for us," said society spokeswoman Elizabeth Bridgers. …

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