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FDA lacks bite

"FDA's not so secret weapon" (Special Report, AA, March 19) has at its core the premise that Nancy Ostrove and the Food & Drug Administration are the all-powerful watchdogs over direct-to-consumer [prescription product] advertising. Yet Ms. Ostrove [who oversees DTC advertising at FDA's Division of Drug Market-ing, Advertising & Communica-tions] gives evidence within the article that this is not the case.

The article missed the opportunity to [be] a story about a pressing issue that is both perplexing and frightening: The FDA not only allowed the onslaught of DTC advertising (that it is now trying to regulate) by relaxing its own restrictions, but it also allowed the review process to be voluntary. This strikes me as incredibly naive.

Sure, there are drug companies willing to submit themselves to the process, but there are those that don't and an ad that is pulled could have been seen by thousands of potential customers. How does one recall people's memories of an ad? Is it any wonder Ms. Ostrove is "not satisfied" with the results of the regulation she helped mold?

But can she truly be surprised that drug companies have been "selfish" in their abuse of a lax system? The pharmaceutical industry is in business to make a profit and if a means for increasing that profit is available, the companies are going to use it. The whole point of a regulatory agency is that it have the teeth to back up its regulations. But the FDA, in this instance, is just teething.

Noah Scalin

Art Director

ALR Design

Richmond, Va.

Corra's philosophy

I can totally understand why Henry Corra drives Gateway's agencies up the wall. ("Regarding Henry," AA, March 26). This one statement of his alone -"My philosophy is this: If you can write the concept down on paper, then it's probably not the right idea for Gateway"-runs counter to a basic principle agencies have believed in and practiced for years.

Barry McCabe

McCabe Marketing Communications

Westport, Conn.

Ad bans on campus

Randall Rothenberg's column on the David Horowitz anti-reparations ad that stirred such a furor at various colleges ("Ad in campus papers stokes protest, but on wrong issue," Viewpoint, AA, March 19) was not quite on target.

Contrary to Rothenberg's assertion, reparations are not a good idea, but a very bad one. But at least he is providing a forum for discussion. The real issue here is not reparations, but the relentless effort by our colleges and universities, almost all dominated by left-wing zealots, to stifle free speech. They say they favor freedom of speech, but what they mean is the freedom to speak in an approved way. One might say that they do not have a problem with someone else speaking, but simply will not let others hear it if they do not approve of what is being said.

Rothenberg also is guilty of the liberal predilection to call anyone who offers a perspective on race relations different from his a racist. To call David Horowitz a racist is to unfairly smear him. Fomenting divisions among races? Accusing Horowitz of that is absurd; that behavior is the province of such race-baiters as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Rothenberg's arguments are muddled and unpersuasive.

Dennis Campbell

Account Executive


Farmington, N.M.

Randall Rothenberg's column alludes that David Horowitz is a racist. That's just not true. Those on the left, like Mr. Rothenberg, tend to spew the "R" word cavalierly to those they disagree with. The term racist is losing its meaning and becoming just another slur.

Gregg McConnell

Newbury Park, Calif.

I can appreciate what Randall Rothenberg is trying to do, but the way in which he makes comparisons is so over the top that any validity to his argument is overlook-ed. American slavery equals Holocaust-like magnitude? Slavery is a horrid period in American history, but that's a little bit of a stretch don't you think?

Matt Gilmore


Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


* In "Wieden lays off 38; Clear Ink cuts staffs" (Late News, April 9, P. 1), it was incorrectly said that Wieden & Kennedy employed 230 staff members. Wieden employed 230 in Portland, Ore., and 84 in New York. Its staff cutback represented 12% of the 314 total staff members.

* In "Turner Broadcasting faces tough upfront" (April 9, P. 3), the sources of some cable revenue data estimates were not clearly attributed. All cable data, including that for USA Network and Lifetime, were from Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. USA Network and Lifetime dispute the CMR estimates.

* In "Tech marketers, publishers anticipate more ad squeeze" (April 9, P. 37), it was incorrectly said that Oracle Corp. would break a new campaign April 9. The campaign will break later this spring.

* In "DTC marketers eye ethnic media" (March 19, P. 39), the name of the prescription product Vaniqa was misspelled. Also, Vaniqa was incorrectly cited as a Pfizer product. It is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

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