The Brisbane Times from Australia reports that Bayer has breached an agreement on baby milk marketing. For many years Bayer, Nestle and other companies have been using aggressive marketing tactics to circumvent advertising bans on infant formulas. In 2006 Bayer was among the companies who sued the Philippine government to stop its absolute ban on promotion and advertisement of breast milk substitutes.
Bayer's practice in promoting Novalac in medical journals in Australia was highlighted in IBFAN´s global monitoring report, Breaking the Rules Stretching the Rules 2007, see: http://www.cbgnetwork.de/downloads/IBFAN_Report_Bayer.pdf.
Bayer breached baby formula pact: panel
June 3, 2010 -- A pharmaceutical company breached an agreement on baby formula marketing by idealising bottle-feeding in a medical journal advertisement.
An advisory panel on the marketing of baby formula in Australia found in January 2009 Bayer Australia had breached the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas (MAIF) agreement. This was revealed in the panel's 2008/09 annual report, which was tabled in federal parliament on Thursday.
Bayer is a signatory of the agreement, which aims to protect and promote breastfeeding and ensure the proper use of breast milk substitutes in line with World Health Organisation principles.
The company was found by the advisory panel to have breached the MAIF agreement by publishing the advertisement titled "Put infant feeding problems to bed" in a 2007 medical journal, following a complaint.
The advertisement included images of houses with lights on at night, and listed a range of infant-feeding issues, which the Bayer product claimed to assist.
The advisory panel said the advertisement was in breach of the agreement because it contained information that was not scientific and factual. "The phrase `put infant feeding problems to bed' does not, in itself, convey scientific or factual information, but is simply a slogan which could reasonably be regarded as idealising the use of infant milk formula," the panel's annual report said.
The advertisement compounded the slogan's idealisation of using infant formula by giving an overall impression the formula solved a range of infant feeding problems, the panel found. "That is, problems experienced by breastfed infants as well as formula-fed infants.
"In this way, the advertisement can reasonably be seen as idealising the use of infant milk formula in such a way as to undermine breastfeeding."
Under the agreement, manufacturers and importers who are voluntary signatories to the agreement cannot advertise or promote baby formulas to the general public. It can provide information to healthcare professionals so long as it is restricted to scientific and factual matters, and does not imply bottle feeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding.
The advertisement was not republished after its appearance in the medical journal and the company said it had no plans to republish it in future, the advisory panel said.
There are no financial or legal sanctions associated with breaching the MAIF agreement.