Drug ads remain in the crosshairs


Whether on grounds of questionable authority, decency or standing the test of time, members of Congress still have it in for direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads. The kitty is worth fighting for – the companies are said to ante up $4.8B all told on an annual basis.

That amount represents money spent with television, radio, newspaper and magazine spending, according to a New York Times citation of Nielsen Media Research data. It’s said to pale in comparison to the amount spent direct-to-physician, and is almost microscopic compared to the $2.4T spent on health care annually. But it’s visible – legislators are also targets of the ads, and it is said to bring in perhaps $8B in drug spending that otherwise might not occur – that’s called return on investment.

Efforts to deter drug advertising would have run head on into Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel’s (D-NY) plan to help defray health reform costs by eliminating pharma’s advertising business deduction, but word is he has pulled back from that plan.

Nonetheless, one member of Congress wants to limit erectile disfunction ads, forcing them into safe harbor, another wants an FDA-enforced period after a drug introduction to allow time to discover deleterious side effects, and yet another wants the deduction eliminated because doctors, not pitchmen, should be suggesting drugs to patients.

RBR/TVBR observation: We often see such legislation make it into a draft bill, only to be erased before the bill comes to the floor. But the same proposals simply spring up again – and eventually some of them may make it all the way to and through the Oval Office.