Proprietary pharmaceutical giant Glaxo SmithKline has hit upon a novel way to promote its anti-allergy medicines, commissioning the writing of a new Mr Men book, Mr Sneeze and His Allergies. The Mr Men, penned by the late Roger Hargreaves, were phenomenally popular among small children in the 1970s and 1980s and spawned a plethora of merchandise spin-offs. Now, according to today’s Media Guardian, GSK is hiring Roger’s son Adam to produce the new tome which it the company will give away as part of the roadshow publicity for its allergy medications. The books, which conclude with a guide to allergies and medications, are being used as prizes for competitions in the local press.

The storyline is as follows: Mr Sneeze suffers from a summer ailment he believes is a cold. His companion Little Miss Sunshine suggests he might have hay fever but his sneezing doesn't stop after he ploughs up all his grass. Said a GSK spokesman: "It's a story about misunderstanding allergy. The book's aim is to raise awareness of allergies in general, especially indoor allergies”.

Mr Sneeze was not available for comment. The IPKat however cautions: “This news item is loaded with issues. First, on a technical legal note, commissioned works can cause copyright problems, particularly if they have illustrations. The time to sort these issues out is before the event, so as not to run the risk of new Mr Sneeze spin-offs providing a battleground between competing commercial expectations. Secondly, on a strategic note, we’d like to know about issues of exclusivity: there are loads of Mr Men characters, others of whom may be quite useful for other pharma companies. Have GSK guarded against this? Thirdly ― and this is a big ethical issue ― many people are uncomfortable with the idea of targeting drugs at children through a series of books that ordinarily have no hidden commercial agenda. On the other hand the IPKat welcomes anything that would lead to a higher rate of correct diagnoses of potentially debilitating illnesses. It’s a question of striking the right balance”.

Find out about the charity Allergy UK here
Read Grandpa’s cure for Mr Gout and Mr Arthritis
Allergies to work, kissing, chocolate and culture

PHARMA COMPANY TURNS TO MR SNEEZE PHARMA COMPANY TURNS TO MR SNEEZE Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, August 11, 2003 Rating: 5

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