PhRMA President Tauzin Cites Need for Voluntary Prescription Drug Advertising Guidelines
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President and former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) on Monday reaffirmed that the drug industry is working to develop a voluntary "code of conduct" for prescription drug advertising, which drug makers hope to issue by June or July, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 5/17). Tauzin last week announced the guidelines, citing a need to regain public trust in the industry. The guidelines would encourage pharmaceutical companies to discuss medication safety risks, target the proper patients for specific treatments and recommend that patients discuss medications with their physicians.
Tauzin also said that pharmaceutical companies plan to publish the results of clinical trials for more prescription drugs online at clinicalstudyresults.org. Last week, Tauzin also reaffirmed industry support for an independent prescription drug safety office within FDA, along with industry opposition for the legalization of reimportation of drugs from Canada and government price negotiations with drug companies (California Healthline, 5/3).
On Monday, Tauzin said the industry is considering establishing an independent body with which consumers and competing drug companies could file complaints about drug ads. According to the Times, a "possible model" for such an agency is the national advertising division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which reviews advertisements for accuracy. Tauzin noted previous efforts to develop advertising guidelines, saying, "The sentiment now is for a good strong code" (New York Times, 5/17). He added, "If you watch TV, you've already seen some of the ads changing." He also said the guidelines would emphasize straightforwardness in advertising. "If you've got this problem, we have this product. If not, get up and go to the bathroom," Tauzin said.
At the press briefing, Tauzin also noted PhRMA's recently launched Partnership for Prescription Assistance program, which helps uninsured residents find private and public prescription drug discount programs (Rubin, USA Today, 5/17).
John Kamp -- executive director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, which represents medical marketing firms -- said he expects PhRMA to develop "an advertising code that has teeth" (New York Times, 5/17).
Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, said that Tauzin's stance on PhRMA's failure to gain pubic trust "trivializes the seriousness" of drug safety. Wolfe said, "What he's saying is that [drug manufacturers] have not done a good public relations job," adding, "Coming from the Hill, he knows the power of public relations" (USA Today, 5/17).