Energy & Commerce Committee members John Dingell (D-MI) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) failed to get satisfaction from the heads of various pharmaceutical marketing departments in their effort to head off deceptive advertising practices. They are now taking their case to the companies’ CEOs, via a letter to four representing some of the largest companies.
“To date, we have not received adequate assurances that the leading pharmaceutical companies share our commitment to providing consumers with accurate information about drug therapies,” said Dingell. “Marketing department leaders have failed to commit to reducing misleading and deceptive ads, so we’re now asking the CEOs to make this agreement. Patient health should always trump corporate profits and we hope these executives will agree and commit to improved business practices and more effective marketing guidelines.”
Stupak added, “Consumers should not have to rely on the oversight function of Congress to make sure drug companies tell the truth in their ad campaigns,” Stupak said. “Pharmaceutical companies should consider it a privilege to air DTC ads and, as with all privileges, there comes responsibility. We intend to make certain that drug companies market their products properly in order to protect American consumers from manipulative commercials designed to mislead and deceive for profit.”
RBR/TVBR observation: The message is clear – do it yourself, pharma companies, or we’ll do it for you. Such advertising may well end up being more about harmful side-effects than the beneficial attributes of a given drug. Congress almost added serious restrictions to pharmaceutical ads last year, and the issue simply is not going away any time soon. Members of Congress have almost nothing to lose – they’ll be standing up for the little guy against greedy corporate interests. We’ll be hearing more about this.