Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America chief Billy Tauzin today told members at the trade organization's annual meeting that PhRMA was "finding its soul" and spoke of a "new rhythm," but said the industry was "going through a profound gutcheck."
"We have not told our story well enough or often enough to our most important constituency -- patients," said the 13-term congressman, who left public service last year after winning a battle with cancer."We have a good story to tell," he added, noting industry donations of drugs at home
and abroad, the billions that pharmaceutical companies donated towards tsunami relief efforts earlier this year and the number of medicines in development for the treatment
and prevention of AIDS.
"What have you read about this monumental effort?" asked Tauzin.
"It is still too well-kept a secret." He was preceded by incoming PhRMA chairman and Johnson & Johnson chief Bill Weldon, who cautioned that "Any misstep by any one company can have a deep and lasting impact on the industry." Weldon vowed to carry on the efforts of his
predecessor, Abbott chief Miles White, to establish voluntary guidelines for DTC advertising, and said several companies had adopted internal guidelines. The industry had learned, he said, that advertising "may inadvertently minimize the power of these drugs," and said the time had come for new directions in DTC.
"It should be thought of as DTC education," said Weldon, who held up two spots -- one for Tylenol, warning against taking more than the recommended dosage, and one for Ortho-Evera, featuring prominent risk information -- as examples of responsible advertising.
Meanwhile, PhRMA's access and affordability campaign goes national next month with ads offering "a helping hand from America's pharmaceutical companies."
The group will target seniors with 30- and 60-second ads featuring the "helping hand" tagline on network and cable TV, as well as a limited print advertising campaign.
Following successful pilot programs in a half-dozen states, PhRMA is establishing several national call centers and a Web site to direct seniors, the uninsured and the underinsured
to benefit and discount programs both private and public. PhRMA is seeking out local partners
for the program, including healthcare professional groups, pharmacists, patient organizations and labor unions. "We felt the program needed a national brand with a local identity," said PhRMA vice president for alliance development Wes Metheny, who heads third-party outreach for the campaign.