Drugmakers face direct-to-consumer ad ban

A new bill being considered by Congress would ban pharmaceutical companies from advertising new drugs for two years after they hit the market. Legislators have said they want to make sure drugs are safe before the pharmas begin aggressive marketing. Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) began working on the measure in 2004 after the Vioxx debacle. The new bill would expand the FDA's powers over drug launches, including a provision allowing it to impose the new ban. Pharmas would scream bloody murder if they're forced to stop direct-to-consumer ads for launches, as they've had a lot of success with promoting drugs in television, print and Internet advertising. They spent nearly $5 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising during 2006 alone, according to Nielsen Medical Research. Meanwhile, in an attempt to stave off such regulations, drug company trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has issued voluntary guidelines members can follow when promoting drugs. Also, drugmakers like Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb have decided to stop advertising drugs for up to 12 months after they're launched.

To learn more about the proposed regs:
- read this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

ALSO: Many consumers believe that direct-to-consumer pharma advertising influences their behavior. Release