Anemic Report from PhRMA on DTC Accountability

J0407549In 2005, PhRMA created a set of DTC Guidelines for industry putting forth a number of principles by which signatories would abide in fashioning direct-to-consumer ads.  The report recently issued by PhRMA on that account leaves much to be desired.

On the PhRMA Web site, I have been unable to discern who the signatories were.  If you dig on the site, you will find information about how to submit a comment regarding DTC.  There is a DTC link on the home page that takes you to another page overviewing the Guiding Principles.  On that page, there is a link that is written in teeny tiny print asking if you want to submit a commnet.  Nor, is there any way for the average consumer to know that such a thing exists in the first placewhen they see a DTC ad.  That is, unless they happen to go to the PhRMA Web site and view the press release announcing it, or do a search on the site – not something your average consumer is likely to do. 

How a person is supposed to comment about an alleged violation of the principles is unclear since one doesn’t know who the signatories were?  Are they all PhRMA members?  Are we supposed to know that?

But for those who have been waiting, PhRMA did release a report last month from their Office of Accountability.  If you missed it, it is because there was no press release regarding the report issued by PhRMA.

That may be because there was little news value in it.  The report is primarily a quantitative accounting of how many reports were submitted pertaining to each principle outlined in the guidelines.  Little qualitative information is available in the four page report.

Given the potential for a switch in Congress of at least one half of the legislature, if the industry really means to express a desire to self-regulate, a report on DTC – and the ability to submit such a report, should have more than a half-hearted effort put into it.  Henry Waxman probably wouldn’t give this report the time of day.  An anemic response is probably worse than none at all.  This effort, judging by the report, was probably not worth a press release. 

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2 Responses to Anemic Report from PhRMA on DTC Accountability

  1. John Mack says:

    You might want to read my take on this at Pharma Marketing Blog: http://pharmamkting.blogspot.com/2006/09/phrmas-ooa-issues-first-report.html
    Back in May, 2006, I wrote to PhRMA’s Office of Accountability (OOA) complaining that Sepracor was “sneaking” in Lunesta “reminder ads” despite being a signatory to PhRMA’s Guiding Principles for DTC Advertising.
    I am happy to tell you that my comment was counted in the OOA report, I think. I’m pretty sure. Probably.

  2. Clearly, pharma TV ads have not presented a very clear message on their products, and some appear to intententionally mislead viewers. Remember, building loyalty and image here is critical.
    We should extend “some” lattitude to advertisers as they try to craft the best message for a TV audience. TV direct to consumer ads have now finished the “first generation” stage. I would now expect advertisers to improve on their ads. Feedback I’ve received has been mixed at best.
    I believe the advertisers who can craft the most clear and targeted message – will get the most bang for the ad dollar.