HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Housecleaning Part III: Drug Companies Propose Advertising Guidelines

In an effort to stem movements against consumer drug advertising, the pharmaceutical industry (via Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association) released draft guidelines as a self-policing initiative (press release).  The N.Y. Times reports that the guidelines endorse a period of informing doctors about new drugs before running ads for them but without setting a time span between a drug's release and the beginning of ads.   The guidelines say that drug makers should have "conversations with physicians" before advertising new products.  The guidelines also require age and audience appropriate ads, ads that promote disease awareness, and ads that notify patients about low-cost drugs for the uninsured. 

The N.Y. Times reports that many critics of the drug industry have called for a set time period, arguing that doctors need time to understand drugs before patients start asking for them.    Ken Johnson, senior vice president of PhRMA, counters that "there's a clear recognition by our companies that there should be an appropriate period of time to educate physicians before any new ad campaign begins."  Rob Schneider of Consumers Union, a large consumer group, said that "It appears the pharmaceutical industry has produced a placebo rather than supporting real reform of drug advertising."  Johnson adds that details of the proposal will be released next month at a news conference and that they are working on a notice and comment process to receive information and comments from the public and other healthcare professionals. 

Last month Bristol-Myers Squibb adopted its own voluntary 12-month delay between introducing a product into the market and advertising it (Direct-to-Consumer Communications Code, June 13, 2005, PDF).

Research assistant Lindley Bain was on this story. [tm]

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