Congress Scrutinizes Device Ads

For years, the pharmaceutical industry has been under the spotlight for its TV and print ads that target consumers. Now device companies are finding themselves in the hot seat, and the results could put the same restrictions on advertising medical devices as there are for promoting drugs. Today the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing to examine direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for devices and whether companies are maintaining a balance between expressing product benefit and risk.

September 18, 2008

1 Min Read
Congress Scrutinizes Device Ads

Those present at the hearing debated how the ads can give patients "unrealistic expectations" and lead to the overuse of expensive technologies (as stated by Kevin Bozuc a board director of the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons) versus AdvaMed president Steve Ubl's stance that by helping patients learn about new technologies and treatment options, DTC ads can initiate critical discussion between doctors and their patients.Professor Ruth Day, PhD, from Duke University discussed how these ads influence consumers and can inhibit their understanding of the potential risks, but her sentiment, not surprisingly, wasn't shared by Ubl. "The idea that a patient would undergo a complex and invasive procedure based on an advertisement, or that a physician would agree to perform them if inappropriate for a patient, is difficult to imagine," Ubl said. He also stressed that FDA and the Federal Trade Commission presently have the legal authority to regulate false or misleading ads involving devices.William Boden, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Buffalo suggested that ads be banned for at least two years after devices are approved. Committee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) had been holding hearings on drug and device marketing for 15 months and plans to continue pushing FDA in its oversight. "Physicians and consumers must be appropriately educated about these critical devices and their benefits and risks alike," he stated. "What we do in the near term will be dependent on the proactive actions of FDA and industry."

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