PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL CALLS FOR DTC DRUG BAN

Howard Dean Says Move Would Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean wants an end to direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads.

In one of the strongest statements from any the Democratic presidential candidates, the former Vermont governor, who previously indicated he wanted to curb the ads, proposed a nearly total ban last night during a town-hall meeting in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He suggested the measure as a way to reduce prescription drug costs.

"Since 1991, drug companies have

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increased their advertising to consumers from $55 million to approximately $2 billion per year," his campaign quoted Mr. Dean as saying.

Increases demand
"Occasionally, this advertising has a legitimate purpose of informing consumers about a new product that can benefit them," said Mr. Dean, who is also a physician. "More commonly, it simply increases the demand for these products, dramatically increasing the nation's prescription drug bill. I support a ban on direct advertising of prescription drugs to consumers except for situations where there is a compelling public health justification for the advertising."

At least two other Democratic candidates, U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., and U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., have been critical of DTC drug advertising.

Last month in Washington, the Food and Drug Administration held public hearing as to whether DTC advertising should be subject to stricter guidelines. The FDA said it will use the findings from the two-day event, plus its own research, to determine if the agency's current regulatory approach should be modified.

4A's responds
Adonis Hoffman, senior vice president and general counsel for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, today commented on Mr. Dean's proposal.

"I understand Gov. Dean's concerns, but all credible studies, including those from the Food and Drug Administration, Prevention magazine and the National Medical Association, which represents black doctors who serve minority patients, all have concluded on there are considerable health benefits from the advertising. It would also raise serious constitutional issues."

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