Bayer Aspirin?

I tend not to write about political issues here - that's why I keep my other, more personal blog. But I couldn't listen to this week's invocation of a semi-synthetic natural product pharmaceutical without weighing in. Foster Friess' Bayer aspirin comment on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell, for which he has now sort of apologized, is here for those who may not have heard it - from Asked if he worried that Santorum’s Puritanical views on sex and social issues could hurt the candidate in the general election, Friess offered a more home-spun family planning scheme:
FRIESS: On this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive. You know, back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.
Andrew Rosenthal at The New York Times has more commentary and the complete context of the quote which he notes, "defies summary."   Many, many pixels have been spilled by my blogging colleagues on the heartless, misogynistic, insensitivity of such a joke being made about an issue central to the civil rights of women. I could go on about this - and I'd venture to hypothesize that my female colleagues at C&EN with whom I share this blog real estate would like to strangle Friess. It's exactly these types of "jokes" that create the unfriendly environment of many laboratories and departments toward our women trainees and colleagues. But my question here at CENtral Science relates to the issue of Friess specifically mentioning Bayer aspirin (The Wonder Drug - yes, at and not just, "an aspirin." How does a company handle the issue of their product name being used in such an offensive manner? I've noticed that some media outlets have chosen to use, "Baer aspirin," either for commercial reasons or because they just had a poor copy editor. From a corporate standpoint, my guess is that Bayer would just let this one pass its way out of the news cycle. But it certainly makes me wonder if Bayer PR and marketing people are convulsing in a conference room somewhere.  

Author: David Kroll

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1 Comment

  1. Perhaps they are not unhappy to have “Bayer” and “Aspirin” reunited, so to speak:

    “As part of war reparations specified in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles following Germany’s surrender after World War I, Aspirin (along with heroin) lost its status as a registered trademark in France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where it became a generic name.”

    (It was Bayer, a German company who lost the TM.)