Rx INDUSTRY: Defends Its Consumer Advertising
Drug companies are defending their consumer advertising budgets, arguing that the ads help patients ask their doctors about undiagnosed illnesses, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. "We make no apologies for either direct-to-consumer advertising or the desire on the part of our companies to get information out there," Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President Alan Holmer said. Drug industry critics argue that the high price for medicine is partly because of large advertising budgets, but PhRMA said the industry dedicates a "much higher percentage of sales to research and development costs." IMS Health, a group that monitors drug information, estimates the industry spent about $6.1 billion on advertising and marketing efforts last year, excluding sales representatives salaries. Defending the advertising, Judy Bello, executive vice president of PhRMA said, "It doesn't do any good to invent these things and then people don't know about them."
Canadian Bus Trips
PhRMA also addressed the House Republican's drug plan and the much-publicized trips to Canada by Americans to purchase cheaper drugs. Holmer said, "You can't just cherry pick one aspect of Canadian health care," and explained that most Canadians "consider their health care system to be in a crisis." The drug industry argues that the price controls imposed by Canada "have put U.S. drug firms at a disadvantage ... because they cannot incorporate currency fluctuations into drug prices." PhRMA applauded House Republicans for their drug plan to cover seniors with a "private, voluntary, stand-alone" prescription drug plan. The Republican plan is similar to the ideas drug firms are offering (Fulton, 4/10).