DTC in the Crosshairs of Congressman Waxman

Reuters carried a report yesterday confirming not only that a moratorium on Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising is likely to be introduced in the next Congress, but is going to be broached by Congressman Henry Waxman, the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  

For those that had perhaps thought that some of the focus on pharmaceutical marketing might take a back seat to economic and financial matters, it may be time to reconsider as the article states that Congressman Waxman is looking to begin conversations on the matter in January.   The article quotes him as saying ""It is in these first few years of a drug's life that drug companies often
aggressively market their products and engage in direct-to-consumer advertising.
This increases the number of consumers exposed to safety risks of new products
long before those risks are truly understood."

Some companies have voluntarily imposed a 6-month moratorium on DTC but it seems apparent that there is something much longer in mind which is a term of 3 years.  

There are probably multiple motivations.  In the first place, the stated reasoning is that this would be a measure to protect the public health by giving a time for a drug to be on the market before aggressive advertising expands its use.  During that time, adverse events that may not have surfaced in a much smaller clinical trials population, would have a chance to emerge.  However, by that same logic, in limiting the use of a new compound, one could also argue that the time before such an adverse event is discovered might be delayed by fewer people participating in the uptake of a new compound.

But the second reason is probably cost.  Inevitably higher drug prices get attributed to higher marketing costs.  If marketing costs are limited by removing DTC, some may feel that not only are costs lowered, but that the federal government, the largest purchaser of drugs, is not subsidizing marketing.  

In any case, this much seems sure.  As stated in the 3-part series on the "Changing Policy Landscape and the Impact on Pharmaceutical Marketing" - one of the two primary ways (DTC) that companies market new products may be about to change.
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One Response to DTC in the Crosshairs of Congressman Waxman

  1. Dan says:

    DTC Advertising
    Not long ago, usually on television, one viewing will often at times see an advertisement for some type of medication- usually it is a drug involved with the treatment in a large market disease state. Such commercials are sponsored by large pharmaceutical corporations for particular networks on television. This is called direct to consumer advertising, and both doctors and citizens largely prefer that they do not exist.
    Since 1997, when the FDA relaxed regulations regarding this form of DTC advertising for the pharmaceutical industry, the popularity of the creation of such commercials has greatly increased. The pharmaceutical industry has spent around 5 billion annually on this media source. The industry ranks number two on their spending of media campaigns- next to automobiles, I believe. Normally, the creation of such a commercial becomes visible to the consumer within a year of the drug’s approval, which raises safety concerns typically associated or possible with newer medications, as history has shown.
    The purpose of DTC ads are not to educate and inform the viewers, in my opinion, as others have claimed. Any advertising of any type shares the same objective- which is to increase sales and grow their market for a particular product and, in this case, for a particular perceived medical condition or disease state that may or may not exist, as a television is not by definition a health care provider for the viewer. The intent of DTC advertising is to generate an emotional response from the viewer, such as fear or concern, believing upon research that the viewer will then question as to whether they need to seek treatment soon for what may be an unconfirmed medical condition or disease suggested with such DTC advertisements. Furthermore, the FDA has admitted that they are ignorant as far as the content of such DTC ads before they are presented to the public, in relation to their accuracy and clarity, as well as possibly their effect on the health care system, as the FDA allows the DTC advertising to continue, yet now it is becoming more restricted, I understand.
    DTC advertising is also a catalyst for and similar to disease mongering.
    Disease mongering is the creation of what some believe should be medical flaws, and illustrated by the creators through exaggeration and embellishments through such media sources as an avenue for what appears to be propaganda often, as is often seen with DTC advertising. The content of the advertisements appear to be medically absent, yet realistically they are in fact corporate creations of these questionable human ailments that do not or may not require treatment, possibly, and may be attempts by the makers of certain drugs to develop or embellish a particular medical condition to acquire additional profit. One of my favorite DTC advertisements is the new concept for the use of an anti-depressant for a social disorder. Social disorders appear to be another phrase for what are known as introverts- a term created by Dr. Carl Yung. And it is a personality trait, not a medical disease, many believe. There are other questionable medical conditions claimed in the contents of DTC commercials, as the creators of these commercials again wish to grow the market for a particular, and possibly fictional, disease state. Then there is also baldness treatments advertised, as another example by the advertisers who attempt to create a need for treatment. Lifestyle medications are not treatment options for illnesses, and should not be portrayed as such in certain direct to consumer advertisements. Then there are the Viagra commercials with the happy man who is fully energetic on the advertisement for this drug is not your typical man who has erectile dysfunction. So DTC advertisements are intentionally deceiving to grow the markets for the benefits of the makers of the drugs advertised.
    Also, DTC ads discuss only one treatment option normally, so it seems, when likely there are several treatment options that exist for authentic medical disorders. The options for treatment should be left to the discretion of the health care provider, as they are the ones who assess your health, not your television or another media source. That’s why most of the world does not allow DTC advertising, with the exception of our country and New Zealand.
    Finally, DTC advertising and its ability to influence viewers to make their own assessment instead of a medical professional remains largely unregulated, yet apparently effective for the creators of direct to consumer advertising. People are prone to believe what they see and hear, regardless of whether or not it is actually true. Many, after viewing a DTC ad, seek out a doctor visit and request whatever product that was advertised, which makes things cumbersome if not awkward for the health care provider chosen by the viewer of a DTC ad for such a visit. So the doctor and patient relationship is altered in a negative way, because most DTC ads require a prescription. Also, in some situations, the sponsor will speak and acquire a dormant/inactive actor, perhaps, or a former athletic celebrity, to fuel their intent.
    Medical information and claims of suggested health ailments should come from those in the medical field instead of the corporate world utilizing media outlets such as television. Perhaps this will save some over-prescribing of expensive medications that progressively has been occurring recently, which will benefit everyone in the long term. And the Health Care System can regain control of their purpose, which should be far from financial prosperity. This elimination of DTC advertising would only be a start to achieve control in the U.S. Health Care System as it exists today.
    “Ignorance is not innocence but sin.” — Robert Browning
    Dan Abshear
    Author’s note: What has been written was based on information and belief
    Published on http://www.brainblogger.com