COMMERCIAL ALERT LAUNCHES ANTI-DRUG ADS WEB SITE

Encourages Public to Communicate Concerns About DTC Dangers to FDA

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Commercial Alert, the Portland, Ore.-based consumer advocacy group that has focused much of its efforts of late to ending pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising, this morning launched a new Web site called StopDrugAds.org.
Commercial Alert hopes to mobilize public opinion against the dangers of prescription drug advertising.
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Educate public
Commercial Alert's director, Gary Ruskin, said the purpose of the Web site is to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug advertising, and to mobilize thousands of Americans to voice their opposition to the ads.

Mr. Ruskin is leading the charge as the Food and Drug Administration continues to accept public comment on DTC prescription drug advertising until Feb. 28. The Web site states that it is not the role of drug executives to tell Americans which drugs to buy, and it encourages visitors to send comments to the FDA in opposition to DTC advertising.

'Should be illegal'
“In effect, drug companies are practicing medicine without a license, and that should be illegal,” Mr. Ruskin said. “We’ve got to halt prescription drug advertising before the next Vioxx tragedy happens.”

The FDA held two days of public hearings in November to take public comments both for and against DTC advertising, as the agency hopes to render a new policy regarding the $4 billion industry later this year.

Days before the hearings, Commercial Alert released a statement from 211 professors from U.S. medical schools that “direct-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs should be prohibited.”

Prominent medical school professors
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.

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