States Target DTC Advertising

Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-12-01-2001, Volume 0, Issue 0

Washington, DC-With no signs that FDA plans to significantly limit direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines, state governments across the country are proposing their own curbs. During the past year, legislators considered some 60 bills or resolutions concerning pharma marketing or advertising, and efforts are likely to increase as state policy makers link DTC advertising to rising drug expenditures.

Washington, DC-With no signs that FDA plans to significantly limit direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines, state govern-ments across the country are proposing their own curbs. During the past year, legislators considered some 60 bills or resolutions concerning pharma marketing or advertising, and efforts are likely to increase as state policy makers link DTC advertising to rising drug expenditures.

Many of the bills seek to halt "inappropriate prescribing" and minimize interference in the doctor-patient relationship by

  • requiring increased disclosure of pharma's in-state advertising, marketing, and promotion costs. West Virginia has adopted such a law, but because it creates immense record keeping problems and may require companies to disclose proprietary information, manufacturers are likely to challenge it in court.

  • curbing the tax deductibility of DTC advertising expenditures.

  • increasing liability for companies that sponsor DTC advertising with inadequate consumer warnings.

  • requiring state agencies to analyze costs and benefits to consumers of pharma advertising and promotion.

  • asking FDA to impose a moratorium or more restrictions on DTC advertising.

State legislatures failed to pass most of those bills, possibly because of concerns about violating freedom of speech, observes Lori Reilly of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. PhRMA plans to conduct research on the benefits of DTC advertising-how it may affect public health and whether there is any evidence that advertising raises the price of individual medicines. Reilly says marketers believe that the opposite is true: More information may reduce consumer outlays. But she adds that it is hard to quantify DTC's direct impact because consumers have access to other information and companies support other marketing programs.