Pill Pushers Avoid Advertising Restrictions

Congress has jettisoned proposed amendments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) legislation that would have expanded the agency's powers over drug industry direct-to-consumer advertising campaigns promoting prescription drugs. "One major reason: the drug industry found powerful allies among media and advertising firms who were determined to protect one of their biggest and fastest-growing advertising categories," write Anna Wilde Mathews and Stephanie Kang in the Wall Street Journal. While drug industry advertising represents only 3.5% of the U.S. advertising market it "registered the highest growth rate among the top 10 U.S. advertisers, growing 13.8% to $5.3 billion from $4.6 billion in 2006." Instead of the FDA having the power to reject advertisements on drugs with serious safety concerns, the agency will only be able to review and comment on proposed advertisements. Dan Jaffe, the executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, described the final bill as "a success for the entire advertising community."