Drug Industry Prescribes Self-Regulation

According to former member of Congress Billy Tauzin, now the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America's head lobbyist, "drug companies [are] trying to develop a voluntary code of conduct for the advertising of prescription medicines on television and in print." Tauzin said "a good strong code" would likely be issued this June or July. However, "one purpose" for the code "is to fend off more stringent federal regulation," according to the New York Times. "Better to self-regulate than to have someone else tell you how to conduct your business," one pharmaceutical marketing chief told Advertising Age. PhRMA's announcement comes as mounting evidence suggests "drug sales don't necessarily rise or fall as TV ads are boosted or reduced," because, unlike other products, "a consumer can't buy a prescription drug without a doctor's signature," reported the Wall Street Journal. Drug ads have come under increasing scrutiny following "the safety controversy over highly advertised painkillers Vioxx from Merck & Co. and Celebrex from Pfizer."