Commercial Alert Organizes Effort to Back Upcoming FDA Testiomny

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In an effort organized by the nonprofit advocacy group Commercial Alert, more than 200 medical school professors have signed a document calling for the end of direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads.

Gary Ruskin, director of Commercial Alert, organized the lobbying effort by medical school authorities.


audio bug Anti-DTC advertising statement signed by medical professors

Gary Ruskin, director of the Portland, Ore.-based organization, plans to present the statement to the Food and Drug Administration in testimony at next week’s public hearings on DTC in Washington.

The statement’s endorsers include prominent medical school professors from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Duke, University of California-San Francisco and other top medical schools, along with two former editors in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. Commercial Alert wrote and organized the statement, and released it this morning.

Does not promote public health
The statement, in part, reads: “Direct-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs should be prohibited. In 2004, pharmaceutical companies spent more than $4 billion in an onslaught of advertising to promote prescription drugs. This advertising does not promote public health. It increases the cost of drugs and the number of unnecessary prescriptions, which is expensive to taxpayers, and can be harmful or deadly to patients.”

The statement goes on to read, “Prescription drug advertising pressures health professionals to prescribe particular medications, and often the ones that may be less effective and more expensive and dangerous. This intrudes in the relationship between medical professionals and patients, and disrupts the therapeutic process. It takes up valuable time to explain to patients why they may have been misled by the drug advertisements they have seen.

'Inherently misleading'
“Prescription drug advertising is not educational. It is inherently misleading because it features emotive imagery and omits crucial information about drugs and their proper use, as well as about side effects and contraindications that can be found on the full FDA-approved label. ... At a minimum, direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising should not exist unless accompanied by the full FDA-approved label. Nor should drug ads be allowed to display imagery that is primarily emotive and not educational. Drug ads on TV and radio should be prohibited because they cannot meet this standard for truthfulness.”

Next week’s two-day public hearings on Nov. 1-2 will feature more than 40 speakers, who each have 12 minutes to state their case for or against DTC. The FDA has been cracking down on prescription drug marketing, and the hearings could lead to more restrictive guidelines on the practice.

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