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(June 13, 2001) -- During a House subcommittee hearing today, several congressmen questioned the impact of direct-to-consumer drug advertising, suggesting it is now impossible to watch TV or read a magazine without seeing the ads.

While much of the hearing before a subcommitte of the Energy and Commerce Committee focused on other issues about drug costs, including delays in approving generic drugs, Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, questioned whether drug company money for marketing was approaching the amount spent on research.

In testimony at the hearing, John Golenski, executive director of RxHealth Value, a coalition of consumer groups, said consumers are not getting enough information on potential risks from direct-to-consumer advertising.

Mr. Golenski called for the creation of a task force to examine direct-to-consumer advertising and for guidelines that would require potential risks and side effects get equal print and airtime in the ads.

Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., the committee's chairman, while also questioning the ad spending, said he was interested in learning whether the ads were leading consumers to get inappropriate medical treatment. -- Ira Teinowitz

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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