Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Asleep at the Wheel?: Steve Cody has an interesting post over at his RepMan blog about the response of Sanofi-Aventis to charges that its Ambien sleep medication is causing people to drive while sleepwalking (or sleepdriving if that’s the term).

Steve is unimpressed with the company’s response, which is that it’s aware of the reports and that those reports have been provided to the FDA. He would like to see the company create a blue-ribbon panel to investigate the reports.

I have to say that my first reaction to this story is that Sanofi-Aventis must know something we don’t: like this is at least partly a hoax. The nasty suspicious and deeply skeptical part of me (by the far the largest part) suspects that drivers are taking the wheel after popping a few Ambien, in blatant disregard of the warning label, and then telling the cops they can’t remember a thing.

But even if that’s the case, once they name a syndrome after your product—the original story identifies “the Ambien driver” as a growing problem—you might want to look a little more proactive. Hoaxes can damage a company’s reputation quite considerably: just ask the Satanists over at Procter & Gamble or the cannibals at Wendy’s.

ADD: Mike Swenson, who blogs too fast for me to keep up with him, also has some thoughts on the Ambien story.


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