CHC petitions FDA, seeking new DTC advertising rules

The Coalition for Healthcare Communications (CHC) today filed a petition with the FDA, calling on the agency to drum up a set of new consumer-friendly rules governing DTC prescription drug advertising and to establish a committee of experts to advise the agency on communications policy. “It’s a recommendation to the FDA that they create DTC rules based on what consumers need to know to talk to their doctors,” John Kamp, executive director of CHC, told MM&M. “The problem with the existing rules is that they are just a derivative form of the doctor advertising rules. They are not the kinds of things consumers need to find out in an ad to decide if they should take further steps along the decision making process.” The petition proposes three new specific requirements to appear in both broadcast and print advertising. The core messages relate to: • Potential benefits and potential risks of prescription medicines, • The need for professional consultation and prescription, and • The patient’s role in those consultations. The petition includes suggested language for use in prescription-drug DTC advertisements but said that manufacturers should remain free to choose language that conforms to the requirements. “Great advertising requires clear, consistent messages,” said Ron Pantello, CEO of Euro RSCG Life Worldwide, today in a statement. “Advertising agencies, their clients, the FDA and public all want better ads. Pharmaceutical companies have moved in the right direction by adopting the new PhRMA self-regulatory DTC advertising principles. Now it’s time for the FDA to assert its national leadership and exclusive regulatory authority in prescription medicine marketing.” The CHC petition also asks the FDA to establish a Communication Advisory Committee, composed of professionals from the industry, officials from the Federal Trade Commission and other experts, with the goal of the betterment of agency communications policy. “It would act like most of the agency’s other committees,” Kamp said. “Bring the people in that know the most about this issue and ask them to help you develop policy based on their understanding of consumer behavior.”