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Bayer Cuts Ties To Speed-Eaters

  • Bloomberg, Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:15 PM
A top international pharmaceutical marketer is taking steps to distance itself from a potentially embarrassing alliance that had been arranged by its U.S. unit in which the company acted as a sponsor for speed-eating contests. The company, Bayer AG, announced it has severed all ties with the International Federation of Competitive Eating Inc., which organizes eating contests around the world. The organization views speed-eating as a sport, but Bayer had been criticized for allowing its Alka-Seltzer heartburn remedy to serve as one of it sponsors. "It is obvious to all that excessive eating is a danger to health," said Hubert Ostendorf, a spokesman for the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, a group that campaigns against the Leverkusen, Germany-based company. "Paradoxically, Bayer offers diabetic remedies to cure the diabetes that is often caused by the very events they are sponsoring," he added. "This was a one-off marketing event, which won't be repeated,'' said Bayer HealthCare spokesman Hartmut Alsfasser. Bayer's U.S. marketing staff took the decision to sponsor the event, he said. ''We became aware of it and stopped it immediately.'' Almost a third of adults, or around 60 million people, in the U.S. are obese, according to the American Obesity Association Web site. The chronic condition is linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer and is the second-highest killer among preventable diseases, AOA says. It estimates annual health-care costs related to obesity at around $100 billion




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