DTC in the Crosshairs on the Hill

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing this morning entitled "Direct-to-Consumer Advertising:  Marketing, Education or Deception?"  This is further evidence that as the election cycle heats up the Congress is quite likely to endorse legislation that would fundamentally change DTC and other pharmaceutical marketing practices, and that the scrutiny of same will endure for months to come.

The witness list included Dr. Ruth S. Day, Director Medical Cognition Laboratory at Duke University and a former member of the FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, as well as representation from the American Medical Association, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Government Accountability Office, as well as several members of industry.

It is a gloomy day in Washington, and I expect a bit stormy up on the Hill. 

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One Response to DTC in the Crosshairs on the Hill

  1. The real deception in DTC medical ads on TV is that consumers today remain “barred” from purchasing the very products that the ads are touting. Instead, federal law requires consumers to contact and pay a physician for the possibility that he or she might write an Rx for the drug or medical device in the ad. This will cost the comsumer an additional $50 to $150, while the consumer will also pay an inflated costs to cover the products advertising, which again they cannot buy. Lastly, the prescribing physician will base much of their decision on how and whether to write the prescription on information provided from the cute mfr sales rep typically with only a 4-year degree. It is pretty common knowledge that physicians by and large DO NOT read the full labeling of the products that they prescribe. So -in many ways, the DTC practice and federal laws barring consumers from DCT “purchasing” of prescription drugs is more of a “don’t ask don’t tell policy,” that arguably does not serve the interests of the consumers it is intended to protect. Perhaps the wiser course would be to ask pyhsicians to “sign off” that they have read the labels of the Rxs they prescribe, or allow more DTC purchases by the consumer.