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House Health Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Drug Bills; Markup To Be Held Next Tuesday

Committee Members Make Comments Criticising DTC Advertising

The Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a legislative hearing today on a number of discussion drafts of pending bills, including the drug safety bill originally introduced by Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), which contains provisions that would severely restrict DTC advertising for new drugs. The committee heard from witnesses from the Food and Drug Administration, Consumers Union, and PhRMA, among other groups. During the hearing, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) made extremely negative comments about DTC advertising, claiming that the "idea that it's in-depth information to consumers is a joke" and comparing the claims made in DTC ads to those in political ads. Additionally, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), signaled support for the three-year moratorium included in the bill. The tone was not entirely negative, as Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) did ask questions of the FDA's representative about the constitutionality of the provisions included in the bill and stated his fear of exposing the Commission to lawsuits. The FDA acknowledged that there were constitutional issues involved in the moratorium proposal.

The committee will begin its markup on the bill on Wednesday evening at 5:00pm when it will hear members' opening statements. The remainder of the markup will take place on Thursday at 10:00am. At the markup, Reps. Ed Towns (D-NY) and Steve Buyer (R-IN) plan on introducing an amendment that would remove the most onerous restrictions on DTC and would replace them with civil penalties for false and misleading ads.

It is important that you contact members of the committee to oppose the original provisions and express support for the Towns-Buyer amendment. We have talking points you may wish to use in your contacts.

If you have any questions, please contact Dan Jaffe in ANA's Washington, DC office at 202-296-2359 or at djaffe@ana.net.

UPDATE: The Subcommittee has postponed the markup until Tuesday, June 19 at 10:00am.

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