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Tainted capsules, tarnished image (2)

By Shen Lili (Global Times)

09:08, May 07, 2012

Easy money

This isn't the first time celebrities and their endorsers have encountered public scrutiny. In 2009, Chinese actor Hou Yaohua found himself in trouble after he shot 10 advertisements for medicine that contained illegal content, including an ad for a liquid medicine that claimed to dialyze the kidney. The product was tested and found to be falsely advertised.

Early this January, actors Tang Guoqiang and Wang Gang were criticized for appearing in advertisements for medicine later found to be a health hazard.

The obvious conclusion drawn from this is that celebrities with no knowledge in the field should not endorse medicinal products. There are grave risks in advertising medicinal products, as these products affect people's health and impacts their livelihood.

Stars take this risk for the sake of considerable remuneration. Celebrity endorsers spend comparatively less time and energy shooting an advertisement, but earn as much money as shooting several TV episodes. For example, Sun Honglei topped the list by earning 4 million yuan ($158,551) for his two-year contract with Xiuzheng Pharmaceutical Group, according to media report.

According to Liu Weisong, the deputy director of Shanghai Jincheng Lawyer's Office, even the supervising staff didn't know the products were tainted, until the information was leaked to the media. The medicine had "obtained all the necessary certificates." It is difficult for endorsers to know about toxic capsules or potential health hazards, when the product is certified.

In an interview with CCTV about the scandal, actor Hou Yaohua said that the manufacturer of the medicines was registered legally and the product researched by qualified professionals, so he had no reason to question the quality.

When asked if he personally used the medicines he represented, Hou said, "I don't take it. I don't have that illness, so why would I take the drugs?"

So-called professionals had verified the products, giving him the reassurance he needed. "[My endorsements and words] were all said based on the provided scripts. I didn't say anything randomly," said Hou.

Hou said that celebrities in advertisements should function as attracting people's attention rather than being a determining factor.

"Advertisements are meant to tell you that there is a new product. You are the consumer, so you have the right to choose. Whether those advertisements are true or not... All advertisements exaggerate...You shouldn't believe everything you hear from the ads."

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