The Advertising Standards Authority is to investigate a cinema advertisement for pharmaceutical company Pfizer after receiving 50 complaints that the scene showing a man pulling a dead rat from his mouth is distressing.
The ad, created by Langland, launched last month and aims to communicate the dangers of buying drugs online without prescription.
It shows a man falling ill after taking a counterfeit pill with his illness depicted by a scene showing him pulling the body of a dead rat from his mouth.
The ad concludes with the sound of him vomiting in the background before the strapline “Get real, get a prescription.”
An ASA spokesman says complainants find the ad “offensive and distressing”.
“Some complainants also believe the ad is particularly likely to cause distress to people who take legally prescribed medicines that also contain dangerous ingredients,” he says.
Last September, Pfizer rolled out a pan-European digital campaign encouraging people to stop smoking.