The tragic death of one of Australia’s best respected young actors, Heath Ledger, has created a form of negative brand endorsement for the sleep-assiting drug Stilnox, manufactured and marketed by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Aventis.
While many companies shell out milions on celebrity endorsement, the revelations that this product was reportedly identified as being by celebrity Ledger’s bedside when he was found dead, portray the Stilnox brand in a hugely negative light. Confirmed use or not, the mention of the drug in association with the suicide of Ledger creates an immediate PR crisis for the pharmaceutical company. The manufacturer of the drug, Sanofi-Aventis, quite rightly says it is not appropriate (at this stage) to comment on speculation about Ledger’s death.
This isn’t the first time concerns have been raised about Stilnox’s efficacy. Currently, Australian regulatory authorities are considering further restrictions on Stilnox/Ambien – which contain the active compound Zolpidem – and which have been associated with adverse events, including people carrying out compulsive activities, like eating and driving, while asleep. Thx to Yahoo & ABC news for background.
My wishes are with Heath Ledger’s grieving family, friends and associates.