Roche Pharma chief blasts DTC ads

William Burns
William Burns
Consumer advertising “was the single worst decision for the industry,” Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO William Burns said at a conference in London.

Burns also cast doubt on industry claims that R&D spending far outpaces ad spend, saying: “When industry says we're spending all the money on R&D but actually it's spending it on TV advertising to preserve margins, it doesn't get much credibility.”

Burns' stinging remarks, made at an FT conference earlier today, were reported by Reuters.

He went on to lambaste the marketing of me-too drugs, saying “the marginally-different-and-market-it-like-hell model is over,” but called for a liberalization of strict limits on consumer communication in Europe, where regulators are weighing letting manufacturers communicate some drug information to consumers while maintaining a ban on consumer advertising.

“You've got two extremes on the planet,” said Burns, “where we are given access to the public in America, which is too much, and in Europe we're not given access to information.”