Four agree to moratorium

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Four top pharmas told Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak that they would refrain from advertising new drugs to consumers for six months after they hit the market.

Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough declined Dingell and Stupak's request that they adopt a two-year moratorium on advertising new drugs to consumers, but said they'd hold back for six months.

In accordance with PhRMA's Guiding Principles on DTC, many companies are already maintaining informal six-month moratoria on advertising of new drugs. PhRMA's Guiding Principles states: “In order to foster responsible communication between patients and health care professionals, companies should spend an appropriate amount of time to educate health professionals about a new medicine or a new therapeutic indication before commencing the first DTC advertising campaign. In determining what constitutes an appropriate time, companies should take into account the relative importance of informing patients of the availability of a new medicine, the complexity of the risk-benefit profile of that new medicine and health care professionals' knowledge of the condition being treated.”

The four firms also agreed to curb the use of actors playing doctors in ads, per AMA guidelines, and to refrain from advertising off-label uses in ads.

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