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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14782

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Teinowitz I.
PhRMA Guideline Revisions Don't Go Far Enough for Legislators
The Advertising Age 2008 Dec 10


Stupak: Some DTC Changes Merely a ‘Rewording’ of Current Rules

Full text:

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is revising some of its guidelines for direct-to-consumer drug ads and the revisions are getting less-than-encouraging reviews from some key legislators.
U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions committee, today responded to the changes by calling for quick confirmation of a new Food and Drug Administration commissioner and more money to enforce FDA laws, including those aimed at reviewing drug advertising.

“The new administration needs to ask Congress for the resources it needs to do its job, and the new administration needs to nominate a commissioner who is committed to enforcing the law,” said Mr. Kennedy. “Congress then needs to provide those resources and act quickly to confirm the nominee for commissioner.”

Meanwhile in the House, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., outgoing chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak, chairman of the committee’s oversight and investigations panel, commended the revisions, but said they don’t go far enough. The committee has been investigating some the claims made in DTC ads.

The two said the revisions directly address some issues that have surfaced in hearings, notably restricting the use of physicians and actors in DTC ads, but fail to endorse others they had urged, including a two-year ban on DTC ads for new drugs.

“Although this revision is the first step toward protecting American consumers, there is much more that can be done,” said Mr. Dingell. “We look forward to working with PhRMA to add further consumer protections into their policies.”

“On the one hand, PhRMA has taken our committee’s concerns seriously by revising parts of their DTC code. On the other hand, some of these changes are merely a rewording of prior policy that does nothing to increase consumer protection,” Mr. Stupak said.

The guideline changes approved by PhRMA says when actors play the part of health-care professionals in ads, they should be identified as actors. In addition, actual physicians featured should be identified as compensated endorsers if they are paid.

In another change, any endorsements by celebrities must reflect the celebrity’s personal experience.

In a third change, DTC ads “containing content that may be inappropriate for children” should be placed in media in which at least 90% of viewers or readers are over 18. The change could affect media placement for erectile-dysfunction drugs.


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909