Drugmakers agree to six-month DTC delay

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Under fire over direct-to-consumer ads, which some Congressional legislators contend are misleading to consumers, pharmaceutical companies have agreed to voluntarily wait six months after drugs are approved before advertising to the public. The Congressmen pressuring the drug companies--Bart Stupak (D-MI) and John Dingell (D-MI)--aren't pleased, however, given that what they wanted was a two year DTC moratorium. Besides, even the drug companies themselves admit that they generally don't advertise within the first six months after product introductions anyway, given that they usually spend at least that much time educating doctors about drugs before beginning consumer advertising. Meanwhile, the pharmas turned down other requests, including that they only advertise products when studies have shown that they improve clinical outcomes (rather than having used biomarkers). (Looks like they gave up a whole lot of nothing, in other words.) The promise to delay on DTC advertising came as part of a hearing focused on ads for Pfizer's Lipitor, Johnson & Johnson's Procrit, and Merck/Schering-Plough's cholesterol drug Vytorin.

To learn more about the hearing:
- read this Wall Street Journal blog item

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