DTC in the Crosshairs of Congressman Waxman

Reuters carried a report yesterday confirming not only that a moratorium on Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising is likely to be introduced in the next Congress, but is going to be broached by Congressman Henry Waxman, the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  

For those that had perhaps thought that some of the focus on pharmaceutical marketing might take a back seat to economic and financial matters, it may be time to reconsider as the article states that Congressman Waxman is looking to begin conversations on the matter in January.   The article quotes him as saying ""It is in these first few years of a drug's life that drug companies often
aggressively market their products and engage in direct-to-consumer advertising.
This increases the number of consumers exposed to safety risks of new products
long before those risks are truly understood."

Some companies have voluntarily imposed a 6-month moratorium on DTC but it seems apparent that there is something much longer in mind which is a term of 3 years.  

There are probably multiple motivations.  In the first place, the stated reasoning is that this would be a measure to protect the public health by giving a time for a drug to be on the market before aggressive advertising expands its use.  During that time, adverse events that may not have surfaced in a much smaller clinical trials population, would have a chance to emerge.  However, by that same logic, in limiting the use of a new compound, one could also argue that the time before such an adverse event is discovered might be delayed by fewer people participating in the uptake of a new compound.

But the second reason is probably cost.  Inevitably higher drug prices get attributed to higher marketing costs.  If marketing costs are limited by removing DTC, some may feel that not only are costs lowered, but that the federal government, the largest purchaser of drugs, is not subsidizing marketing.  

In any case, this much seems sure.  As stated in the 3-part series on the "Changing Policy Landscape and the Impact on Pharmaceutical Marketing" – one of the two primary ways (DTC) that companies market new products may be about to change.
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