Drug firms slack on DTC guidelines

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Two reports issued by PhRMA indicate that while signatories to its DTC guidelines are generally following them, they mostly have a long way to go.

The first report contained observations from four volunteer health professionals who agreed to monitor TV and print DTC ads last year. While they reached no conclusions regarding drug manufacturers' compliance with the guiding principles, they offered these general impressions:
A few DTC campaigns ran ads that educated consumers about the relevant medical condition before launching branded ads, but most provided info about the condition. The most educationally effective ad they saw promoted an Rx medicine in the context of raising consumer awareness of a condition and prompting contact with a physician.

DTC ads can prompt patient dialogue but because of a lack of access to information, many doctors feel unprepared to address patient issues about a new medicine when a DTC ad breaks.

The second report was PhRMA's Office of Accountability survey of companies who
received 458 comments from the public about DTC ads during the second half of 2006. Some comments expressed distaste for the creative concepts chosen, and concern that “inappropriate” ads are still being aired when minors are likely to see them.

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