American Heart Association tells Bayer to pull its drugs from heart health campaign


Bayer, a large, Germany-based drugmaker, funded a campaign for the American Heart Association that included large bins full of Bayer's aspirin products with signs that said "Approximately every 40 seconds an American will have a heart attack," on display at about a quarter of Walmart's stores across the country. 

The implication behind the campaign seemed to be that Bayer's aspirin products could help reduce the risk of heart attack. But recent studies have shown that aspirin's risks outweigh potential benefits when it comes to treating heart disease, and the heart association is now asking Bayer to pull its aspirin products from the bins, Kaiser Health News reported

Last year, the heart association started advising against aspirin therapy unless a physician recommends it after research found serious side effects of aspirin therapy, including stomach bleeding. The heart association now says that, although aspirin can be beneficial for people with previous heart attack or strokes, the risks generally outweigh the benefits for others, according to Kaiser Health News. 

Suzanne Grant, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, told Kaiser Health News that the heart association approved the marketing bins without clearly explaining that people need to talk to a physician before taking aspirin regularly. 

"This was a misstep. It was a human error on our end," Ms. Grant told Kaiser Health News.

The heart association is now asking Bayer to remove its aspirin products from the bins. 

Eduardo Sanchez, MD, the heart association's chief medical officer for prevention, told Kaiser Health News the bins could have given people the impression that aspirin is safer than it is and led to more liberal use of aspirin. 

Chris Loder, head of external communications for Bayer, told Kaiser Health News: "Any inference that Bayer’s demonstration of support for the AHA’s heart health initiatives could be construed as medical advice is simply preposterous. The display contains no medical claims whatsoever and is merely intended to help the AHA raise awareness of a major public health issue." 

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