Sneak peek at new look

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Call it a briefer brief summary.

Two ad agencies specializing in pharmaceutical marketing last week presented mock print ads based on the Food and Drug Administration's new draft guidelines for DTC advertising.

The presentations were made at the Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Draft Guidance Symposium, sponsored by Parade and featuring four key officials from the FDA. The mock ads were created by Quantum Group, Parsippany, N.J., part of WPP Group's CommonHealth, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann HumanCare, New York.

The ads show a drastically reduced brief summary, with the patient information reduced to a small, colorful box along the lines of a nutrition label instead of the full-page, black-and-white, small-type that currently accompanies print ads.

"We took the patient information and made it more attractive," said Andrew Schirmer, exec VP-managing director of McCann HumanCare. "We were trying to create a format that says this is just as important as what you see [in the main ad] on the preceding page."

Said Stu Klein, president, Quantum Group: "There's an opportunity here to move to a more art-directed patient information. "

Interestingly, Messrs. Klein and Schirmer included a blue-labeled box in the main ad that would accompany all pharmaceutical marketing efforts. Calling it an "FDA Seal of Approval," the blue box cautions patients that all medications have side effects and to speak with their doctor. But FDA officials quickly shot down the idea.

"The fact that the drug is on the market is a seal of approval," said Peter Pitts, the FDA's associate commissioner-external relations.

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