Political Mood Swings on Drug Industry Direct-to-Consumer Ads

The $4 billion a year spent by the drug industry on direct-to-consumer advertising promoting drugs is generating a political backlash. "There's a lot of support for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising, and the Democrats know it," said Gary Ruskin, Commercial Alert's executive director. Both Representative John Dingell, the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, have previously expressed concerns about drug industry advertising. One proposal - opposed by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry peak body - is that there be a two-year moratorium on ads after a drug is approved. Reflecting the new political mood, a forthcoming drug industry conference is advertising a session: "How likely is a DTC advertising moratorium? How can I build a product launch plan that will prepare for such action?"