Big Pharma Is Into Instagram Sponcon Now

Instagram influencer Erin Ziering
Image: Getty

The new frontier of SponCon is, unfortunately, looking at manicured photos of hot people and their hot lives interspersed with content paid for by big pharma.

Vox reports that one influencer, Erin Ziering, the famous Hollywood housewife married to Beverly Hills 90210 actor Ian Ziering, advertised Allergan breast implants and botox in December, “the same month the company pulled its textured implants from European markets in response to a notice from the Food and Drug Administration that individuals with breast implants are at risk of developing breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).” Ironically, Ziering’s post is directed at survivors of breast cancer, celebrating Allergan’s decision to donate “free Natrelle Cares packages for breast cancer patients, survivors, and previvors.” If you swipe through the photos, you will see three slides full of safety information on the product (there is no mention of a link to lymphoma). While the ad is framed in “empowering” language, it’s pushing a product that preys on women’s insecurities and omits information that anyone considering Allergan’s product should know.

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And here’s a product that preys on vulnerable pregnant women:

Allergan is not the only company that markets to and, inevitably, tries to take advantage of vulnerable women. Bloomlife is paying mommy bloggers like Alyson Owen and Stephanie Peltier to tell fellow pregnant women that they can save a trip to the hospital by monitoring those pesky contractions at home. The device does not require FDA approval, only registration, as its intended use, according to the company’s website, is as a “health and wellness device and not a substitute for medical attention.” However, neither Owen nor Peltier’s post includes this important advisory; Owen’s goes as far as labeling it the “world’s first clinically validated wearable contraction monitor,” a phrase that may be misinterpreted as “FDA-regulated” by the average consumer.

Deceptive as it is, though, pharma SponCon is consistent with the entire conceit of an Instagram personality who exists to sell you on a fantasy lifestyle maintained through their posts. So, allow me to update an old adage: don’t trust everything you read, especially if it’s on an Instagram influencer’s page.

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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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