Congress keeps heat on DTC advertising

Direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising is coming under more heavy fire from Congress, despite efforts by drugmakers to hold off regulation of one of their favorite marketing channels. This week, lawyers from drug industry association PhRMA met with the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigations panel to see if they could soften the hardline positions taken by committee members. Energy & Commerce members apparently weren't satisfied by May testimony from pharma marketing execs, despite the execs' vows that they'd avoid misleading DTC ads in the future. What the Committee wants, apparently, is written promises from pharma CEOs that they'll play nice with DTC ads.

Committee Chair John Dingell (D-MI) has been particularly tough. He told the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog that if PhRMA doesn't get its act together, the Committee would probably hold another public hearing--something the industry wants badly to avoid--if the industry doesn't establish a timeframe for making changes in their DTC practices. What really scares pharma leaders is the prospect that the next step following a hearing will be legislation restricting DTC advertising practices. They're also facing Congressional pressure to agree to a two-year moratorium on all DTC advertising, something they'd definitely prefer to avoid.

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

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