PhRMA introduces new DTC ad guidelines

As expected, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) released a new set of guidelines this morning intended to address criticism that the drug industry's ads sometimes mislead consumers. If the self-enforced rules are obeyed, the result could be a major change in the drug advertising campaigns Americans see on television. Drug companies will be required to submit spots to the FDA for approval. The new policy also outlaws the brief 15-second spots known as "reminders," since they are generally too short to provide consumers with information on risks. Drug makers will also now take more time to educate doctors about new drugs as they come to market, although compliance is left up to individual manufacturers.

Also yesterday, the FDA announced that it is in the process of organizing a review which will examine the impact of drug industry ads. Hearings, however, are unlikely to come until later this year. Predictably, industry critics like Public Citizen's Sydney Wolfe, were unimpressed by the PhRMA announcement. Wolfe said the industry's efforts at self-regulation are always "doomed to failure, since selling drugs will always trump obeying the law." With Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) now leading the anti-DTC charge in the Senate, this self-regulation may not stave off actual legislation.

- see this story from The New York Times

PLUS: Later today, C-SPAN hosts a live panel discussion that examines the debate over prescription drug advertising. Website