A year ago, a widower caused a stir by writing in an opinion piece that advertising for a Bristol-Myers Squibb cancer drug was “misleading and exploitive.” His wife had recently passed away from lung cancer after being treated with the company’s Opdivo medicine, and he argued that Opdivo ads overstated the chances of living longer.
Concerns about drug advertising are hardly new, but his op-ed, which appeared in The New York Times, triggered a fresh round of debate. Why? Opdivo is one of the new so-called immunotherapies, which harness the body’s own immune system to attack tumors. And they are transforming cancer care, raising expectations among investors, doctors and, especially, patients.