Bristol-Myers Squibb Places 12-Month Moratorium on Direct-to-Consumer Adverstisements for New Medications
New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb on Tuesday announced a self-imposed ban on direct-to-consumer advertisements for 12 months after a new drug enters the market, USA Today reports. According to BMS spokesperson Brian Henry, the company will use the 12-month ad moratorium to educate doctors about new drugs (Schmit/Appleby, USA Today, 6/15).
"We want to make sure that before we start mass media -- television, radio and print branded advertising -- that physicians have a level of comfort about the treatment and which patients are appropriate for it," Henry said (Saul, New York Times, 6/15). He added, "We believe a minimum of a year is the right amount of time to provide health care professionals with information to understand the correct use of our medicines" (Jordan/Todd, Newark Star-Ledger, 6/15).
In addition, BMS said it would advertise drugs on television only to "appropriate audiences at appropriate times of the day" and would include information about a drug's risks and benefits in easy-to-understand language (USA Today, 6/15). Ads also will include information about programs to help low-income patients afford medicines, when appropriate, according to the Wall Street Journal (Wall Street Journal, 6/15). The company still will continue to promote new medications to physicians (USA Today, 6/15).
Henry said "disease-awareness advertising" will allow the company to inform patients about afflictions treated by newly developed drugs and infomercials likely will replace DTC ads (Newark Star-Ledger, 6/15). Henry said the new policy is "[b]ased on feedback from patients and doctors," adding, "People have said there is too much consumer advertising and there isn't enough balance" (Agovino, AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/15).
Mark Bard of Manhattan Research said, "You won't see this across the [drug] companies."
Ken Johnson, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, added that it is "unlikely" a restriction similar to the one adopted by BMS will be included in the code of conduct the group is developing. Johnson said, "We believe it's important to retain the right to inform patients about the availability of new drugs."
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who co-authored a bill to require drug companies to submit DTC ads to FDA for approval, said, "It's good to see a drug company take an extra step to make sure its drugs are safe before there's a massive marketing campaign" (USA Today, 6/15).