Constipation Ad Leads to Laughs and Anger

By Pat Anson, Editor

Next to the game itself, probably the one thing people talk about the most to day after the Super Bowl are the TV commercials.

One commercial that is making quite a few lists as one of the worst is by drug maker AstraZeneca promoting its opioid induced constipation (OIC) drug. The black and white commercial features a constipated man envious of others (even a dog) who can easily go to the bathroom.

“The Super Bowl is known for inspiring lots of eating and lavish spreads of food. So why would advertisers pay millions to air ads focusing on constipation?” asked Eric Deggans of National Public Radio.  “There may never be a great time to air ads like this, but to broadcast such spots in an event where viewers are eating stuff like guacamole dip and pizza surely is the worst.”

“Nothing livens up a Super Bowl like a commercial about opioid-induced constipation,” said ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Twitter.

“Opioid Induced Constipation commercial during the Superbowl? Should have aired that during the Pro Bowl. Nobody gives a sh** about it,” wrote Don on Twitter.

Most of the Tweets aimed for laughs, but one by comedian and talk show host Bill Maher quickly went viral – and not because most people thought it was funny.

“Was that really an ad for junkies who can’t sh**? America, I luv ya but I just can’t keep up,” wrote Maher.

The depiction of opioid patients as “junkies” really got under the skin of pain sufferers and patient advocacy groups, some of whom are sponsored by AstraZeneca.

OIC Tweet.jpg

“You’re a funny guy but for many #chronicpain is real and opioids are needed for quality of life,” replied on Twitter.

“This has to be the dumbest f***ing tweet I have read all day. Don’t ever become sick, sir. Just be glad for your perfect DNA,” wrote Ryan Stevens.

“I’m offended. Ad NOT for junkies but for people with CHRONIC pain who HAVE to have medicine to SURVIVE,” tweeted Caroline Evans.

“I am appalled at this, basically calling all people with pain junkies and making the side effect OIC seem like its no big deal,” said Paul Gileno, U.S. Pain Foundation. 

AstraZeneca paid CBS big money for its one minute spot, perhaps as much as $10 million – yet the commercial never even mentions the drug’s name, Movantik, which the British drug maker introduced in 2014.

The commercial may also have the unintended effect of giving more ammunition to those who want to further restrict access to opioid pain medication, a major goal of the Obama administration.

"Next year, how about fewer ads that fuel opioid addiction and more access to treatment," asked White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Twitter.

"Our Administration is determined to control opioid addiction as a public health threat," replied White House press secretary Josh Earnest.