Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sleeping pills for kids top global list of bad products

Sleeping pills for kids top global list of bad products
Tue Oct 30, 2007

Sleeping pills advertised for children, dangerous toys and bottled water taken from local reservoirs are among the world's worst products, a global consumer group said Monday.

In announcing its bad products awards for 2007, Consumers International said the top prize went to the US subsidiary of Japanese firm Takeda Pharmaceuticals for promoting a sleeping drug for children.

The company ran a television advertisement in the United States which used images of children, chalk boards and a school bus to sell its drug Rozerem.

The "back-to-school" advertisements, which complied with US law, promoted the sleeping pills to parents without including health warnings for children, Consumers International said.

"This case demonstrates the lengths to which some drug companies will go to increase sales of their products, how direct to consumer advertising can promote irrational drug use, and how weak regulation can foster irresponsible corporate behaviour," the group said.

Another award went to drinks giant Coca-Cola for pushing marketing "into the realms of the ridiculous" in the United States and South America with its Dasani bottled water which is sourced from the same reservoirs as local tap water.

Kellogg's, best known for its cereals, was given a bad food award for the worldwide use of cartoon characters and marketing aimed at children despite the high levels of salt and sugar in some foods.

"Kellogg's are one of a number of international food companies that make money by selling products high in fat, sugar and/or salt," Consumers International said.

"Threatened with litigation in the US, Kellogg's have agreed to change some of their marketing practices, however we believe they are doing too little, too late."

Toymaker Mattel was also named over the global recall of more than 19 million products made in China because of high lead levels and small magnets.

Last month the US toymaker apologised to China, saying the vast majority of recalls were due to design flaws and had nothing to do with where the toys were manufactured.

"This is a classic case of avoiding accountability and shifting responsibility on a global scale," Consumers International said.

"Wherever the fault lies, the safety of consumers was compromised and this should be the full focus of Mattel's attention, not finger pointing and not blame dodging."

Consumers International, a global federation of consumer advocate organisations, said the awards aimed to highlight the abuse of consumer trust.

"These multi-billion dollar companies are global brands with a responsibility to be honest, accountable and responsible," the group's director general Richard Lloyd said.

"In highlighting their shortcomings, Consumers International and its 220 member organisations are holding corporations to account and demanding businesses take social responsibility seriously."

The awards, which were announced at Consumers International's World Congress in Sydney, were whittled down from submissions by consumer organisations around the world.

Criteria for final selection included the size of the company, the scale of sales and marketing, the impact on consumers, and the potential for change by the corporation.

No comments: