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Guiding the Intermediaries

Originally Published MX September/October 2005


Over the past decade, pharmaceutical companies have reaped the benefit of relaxed FDA regulation of direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing for new drugs. Marketing expenditures for such new products have skyrocketed, as have drug sales. But when things go wrong—as in the case of the heavily advertised pain reliever Vioxx, withdrawn from the market last year because of safety concerns—theres a significant downside to such public visibility.

In early July, U.S. Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) called for a two-year moratorium on DTC advertising of new pharmaceuticals. In making his case, Frist contended that such advertising "can lead to inappropriate prescribing and fuel prescription drug spending" and that the ads "oversell benefits and undersell risks."

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