Wyeth, a subsidiary of American Home Products, is second to Nestlé in its share of the world baby milk market and has some clever marketing strategies of its own. For example, after we raised awareness of how it promoted its SMA brand of milks in the health care system, in violation of the International Code, Wyeth responded in a novel way - it created a new subsidiary company called SMA and claimed its promotions were for the company name, not baby milks!
Promotion of infant formula using nucleotides was exposed in our Update 19 newsletter. Then this method was being used in the UK. Now it has spread to Kenya. The cover of the UK pamphlet shown below says, "Her milk naturally confers immunity..." This is not referring to breastmilk, but Wyeth's new improved SMA milks containing "nucleotides, a component of human milk [which] may contribute to the enhanced immunity of breast fed infants."
Under-lid leaflets, which have now been found in Kenya, make similar claims and do not mention that the formula does not contain anti-bodies and other components found in breastmilk. The under-lid leaflet claims to be "Your essential guide to nucleotides." The leaflets state that "A mother's milk naturally contains nucleotides," suggesting that SMA nucleotide-enriched milks are equivalent. The leaflet also claims "Nucleotide-enriched infant milks are used around the world."
Write to Wyeth requesting that it stops making misleading claims which suggest its new improved" milks are equivalent to breastfeeding in accordance with Article 4.2 of the International Code.
In 1994 the World Health Assembly adopted a Resolution (WHA47.5) stating that there should be no free supplies of products covered by the International Code in any part of the health care system. This clarified the original wording of the International Code which had been exploited by companies to use this favourite promotional method. Studies have shown that where free supplies have been introduced into hospitals the breastfeeding rate has declined.
In the independent report Cracking the Code, published in January 1997 by the Interagency Group on Breastfeeding Monitoring, Nutricia was exposed once again for continuing to promote artificial infant feeding by means of donations of baby milks. Free samples were reported by mothers and in health workers in Poland.
In July Nutricia donated 7,200 tins of its Cow & Gate Premium Infant Milk to Kazakhstan in the Commonwealth of Independent States as humanitarian aid". As well as providing a way to promote artificial infant feeding, it gave Nutricia a use for the formula which had an expiry date of 10th November 1997. The cans were not labelled in Russian or Kazakh and were sent with no certificate of origin or quality certificate.
Write to Nutricia and ask why it donated free supplies for distribution in Kazakhstan in violation of the International Code and Resolution WHA47.5 of the World Health Assembly.
In 1996 the World Health Assembly recognised that complementary foods were being used to promote artificial infant feeding. Accordingly Resolution WHA49.15 was adopted calling for complementary foods not to be marketed in ways that undermine exclusive and sustained breastfeeding.
This has gone unheeded by Nestlé, which has refused to recognise the Resolutions of the World Health Assembly adopted since the International Code. In October 1997 Nestlé launched an advertising campaign in the Middle East based around a 9-month-old baby and Cerelac, a cereal-based food which is sometimes bottle fed. Advertisements appear on television and billboards and in clinics and shops, promoting artificial infant feeding and Nestlé's name. The advertising campaign, reported to have cost US$200,000, features a blond haired baby boy of mixed Swiss and Lebanese origin. The Director of the TV advertisements says in the Swiss newspaper Le Matin that he is unlike a typical Arab child, "but he is so fine looking and chubby that all mothers want one like him."
Write to Nestlé and request that it: