J&J VP says pharma would oppose DTC ad ban legislation

The pharmaceutical industry has sent a warning that it will oppose restrictions on DTC advertising when Congress takes up federal drug safety legislation next year, The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported. Johnson & Johnson VP Adrian Thomas told a Senate committee that the value of DTC advertising should be carefully considered before legislation in this area takes place. “Many members of the industry, including Johnson & Johnson, have voluntarily agreed to exercise restraint with respect to DTC advertising, especially during the time after approval,” Thomas told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Appropriate DTC advertising plays a valuable role in educating patients about diseases and treatments,” he said. “The value of this education to patients, as well as important First Amendment issue that arise from banning truthful speech, even for a period of time, must be carefully considered before legislating in this area.” A counter view was offered by Consumers Union president Jim Guest, who told the committee the drug safety bill sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) should allow the FDA to limit advertising on new drugs for three years, not just two as proposed. “Direct-to-consumer advertising is not a good way for consumers, physicians or medical providers to be informed,” Guest said.