FDA, Congress consider drug ad changes

Oct. 30, 2005 at 8:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Federal officials are considering banning the use of celebrities such as Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and Olympian Dorothy Hamill in drug ads.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is pushing a bill calling for a three-year moratorium on advertising for most new drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to hold meetings Tuesday and Wednesday that might result in the first significant changes to drug advertising, reported the Boston Globe Sunday.

Some say Vioxx advertisements for arthritis featuring Hamill, who has arthritis, fueled the number of prescriptions before the painkiller's heart risks became known. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found every $1 spent on advertising to consumers, resulted in up to $4.20 in prescription drug sales.

"Frankly, I think patients delivering the message are the best ones. They tell real stories. They can talk from some experience," said Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the pharmaceutical industry's chief lobbying organization.

Tauzin says a three-year ad ban would be excessive for experimental drugs.

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