A draft of proposed voluntary guidelines for DTC advertising is circulating among Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) members. A vote on the principles containted in the draft is expected sometime this summer, said PhRMA communications head Ken Johnson.
"The goal is to make DTC more educational and informational and less promotional," said Johnson.
The draft, written by PhRMA staff, is the latest effort by the group to draw up voluntary guidelines for DTC, a cause championed by former PhRMA chairman and Abbott chief Miles White. Past efforts have foundered amid member disagreement, but the initiative has taken on new urgency since the withdrawal of Vioxx, with DTC under withering scrutiny in Washington.
Current PhRMA chairman Bill Weldon, of Johnson & Johnson, vowed to press the effort in remarks at the group's annual meeting last March. "Several of the companies in this room have adopted guiding principles for direct to consumer advertising and are using them to help educate consumers," Weldon told PhRMA delegates, adding that the best approaches "underscore the right way to use medicines ... better balance information about risks and benefits ... and help consumers understand that all medicines have side effects that are best discussed with one's doctor."