PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: AstraZeneca's Business Policies: More holes than a Swiss cheese.

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AstraZeneca's Business Policies: More holes than a Swiss cheese.

We've had ZubeGate, CupGate and so on. Now it's time for AstraZeneca's BagGate.

Only BagGate isn't really about violating AstraZeneca's policy. It is about AstraZeneca's business policy itself.

The AstraZeneca policy says, "Often a corporate sponsorship includes an opportunity for the sponsor to place a goodwill or courtesy ad in a program book for the event/program being sponsored. When the contribution / sponsorship is to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the advertisement placed in a program booklet (or other promotional materials for the organization/event) should be a GENERAL CORPORATE AD, WITH NO REFERENCE TO A SPECIFIC PRODUCT OR PRODUCTS."

So, when AstraZeneca sponsored a "Race for the Cure" breast cancer event in Philadelphia on Sunday, May 13th, 2007, oncology sales representatives didn't hand out brochures with branded ads, because that would have been forbidden.

Instead they handed out thousands of branded ARIMIDEX and FASLODEX tote bags to the 45,000 or so participants. The whole thing was televised on on CBS News.

Kirsten Evrair, Director, Brand Corporate Affairs, AstraZeneca Oncology released the following statement:

"I can confirm that tote bags were given away to attendees at Race for the Cure this past Sunday in Philadelphia. This activity did not violate AstraZeneca policy."

And Kirsten is absolutely correct.

An advertisement placed in a program booklet or other promotional materials cannot have a reference to a specific branded product, according to AstraZeneca policy.

But handing out thousands of tote bags with reference to branded products is perfectly OK.

You have to admit that it appears as if AstraZeneca sales people are running circles around the people who write AstraZeneca business policy manuals.

Or is it the people who are writing business policy manuals who are running circles around everyone else?

AstraZeneca: Policies made of Swiss cheese.