Ad, Media Groups Help Derail Drug Ad Restrictions — Commercial Alert

Media Industry Helped Drug Firms Fight Ad Restraints

It was “a success for the entire advertising community,” says Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, a trade group.  

By Anna Wilde Mathews and Stepanie Kang
Wall Street Journal

When the Democratic-led Congress started debating a big Food and Drug Administration bill earlier this year, pharmaceutical companies worried that it would sharply restrict one of their most powerful sales-boosting tools — drug ads.


Some are glad drug-advertising rules aren’t headed for a major shift. “The upside is the fact that it’s not changing significantly, because it could have been an ugly picture,” says Mike Rutstein, executive vice president of consumer health care at Interpublic Group PLC’s Draftfcb, which creates ads for companies including Wyeth and Eli Lilly & Co.

Critics argued the industry used ads to push new medicines into wide use before their full safety profiles were clear.

Democrats say the bill will still have an effect on drug ads, reining in the most troubling practices. Besides the FDA’s new power to review ads and fine misleading ones, they point out that the agency will be able to require that ads disclose specific safety risks. With newer drugs, the agency can ensure that ads disclose the date the product won FDA approval. Television and radio ads will also have to include “clear, conspicuous and neutral” statements about any side effects.