FDA Touts Generic Message

Oct 01, 2002

FDA will launch a one-year advertising campaign that aims to build patients' confidence in generic medications. The effort includes brochures, radio and print public service announcements, a website, and a MAT release, a written story in a ready-to-use format that is distributed to small local and low-tier publications. Television advertising won't be a part of the campaign.

The US Congress allotted FDA $400,000 to carry out the initiative. However, with many groups already touting generics as a safe and cheaper alternative to brand-name products, the government will probably get plenty of bang for its buck. Ellen Shapiro, FDA director of public affairs, believes that managed care companies and consumer groups are likely to pass on FDA's message in their communications to patients. In addition, city officials of Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles have agreed to post the public service ads on city buses. Several national consumer magazines that have donated space to FDA's ads in the past are also likely to do so again.

Shapiro says the campaign's message stems from government and university studies that show pharmacists believe patients are misinformed about the quality and performance of generic drugs. "We want consumers currently using generic drugs to know that they are safe, effective, and FDA approved," says Shapiro. "The goal is not to switch people over [from branded products]."

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association president Alan Holmer says he feels that message is self-evident to consumers, but as long as the campaign doesn't seek to circumnavigate the doctor-patient relationship, it is appropriate to convey information about generic products. Holmer also says that PhRMA won't launch a counter campaign.

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