Amgen's Mas Matsuda offers grist for rumor mill

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Marketers may soon need to reconsider their online strategies in light of new regulatory developments, Mas Matsuda, associate general counsel and executive director at Amgen, told attendees at an e-marketing conference in March.

Matsuda posed a series of hypothetical questions to just over 100 attendees of CBI's 8th annual Forum on e-Marketing, including: “What if a two-year moratorium is put on e-marketing? What if Medicare reimbursements are reduced for DTC advertisers? What if DTC advertisers are required to fund a public health or education initiative?” Matsuda recommended that marketers stay vigilant. “Be cognizant that everything you see is potentially actionable—with knowledge comes responsibility,” said Matsuda. “If X number of commenters are having heart attacks on your product, you better be looking into that.”

Matsuda pointed to academic detailing legislation introduced in Congress last July—by Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Robert Casey (D-PA) and Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ)—that could restrict access to physicians. The Independent Drug Education and Outreach Act would fund detailing geared toward protecting doctors from me-too drugs that drive up healthcare expenses, for example, said Matsuda. 

“The goal is to generate healthcare savings while ensuring that Americans receive improved, more effective care,” Matsuda said of the bill, noting that it may have slipped down the federal spending priority list. Regarding PhRMA's updated code on gifts for doctors, Matsuda noted that a stethoscope would not be an appropriate gift, since it is designed for patient treatment and not physician education.  

To navigate the ever-changing regulatory environment, Matsuda recommended that marketers “engage your respective legal and regulatory teams early and often.” 

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