SENATE REJECTS SECOND ATTEMPT TO CURB DTC DRUG ADS

Proposal Sought More Balanced Ad Claims

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- A second effort to place curbs on direct-to-consumer drug advertising was rejected today in the U.S. Senate.

The proposal, an amendment to a Medicare prescription-drug benefit bill, was sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., whose original, broader amendment was rejected yesterday 69-26. Today's proposal was defeated 59-39.

Sen. Edwards' proposal would have

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required DTC drug ads to include information on how each drug compared with others on the market in effectiveness and also include equal weight for the drug's benefits and side effects.

Ad groups had said passage of the amendment would effectively kill broadcast DTC ads, which represent $2.3 billion in advertising annually, most of it broadcast, because of the airtime needed in a spot to provide all the information.

An aide to Sen. Edwards said the senator was seeking honesty and balance in the advertising.

On the Senate floor today, Sen. Edwards, one of his party's candidates for president, complained that DTC drug ads had strayed from their supposed purpose of providing information.

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