More advertising pushback: Vermont Senate seeks restraint on 'beautiful' drug ads

Vermont's state Senate introduced a prescription drug resolution that includes restraints on prescription drug ads.

Vermont legislators, led by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, continue to turn up the heat on pharma. The latest move is a state Senate resolution that includes a provision to restrict “beautiful” pharma advertising.

The nonbinding resolution, brought to the floor by a bipartisan group of four legislators, specifically calls for the creation of legislation that will “restrain the huge expenditures by pharmaceutical companies on advertising and marketing.”

Democratic Sen. Ginny Lyons, one of the initiators of the resolution, spoke in favor of the restriction. "Those advertisements are pictures of beautiful landscapes and people having a great time and yet the side effects are discussed—might cause liver cancer or death—and those are minimized by the perception of the beautiful landscape that we’re seeing,” she told the Senate, as reported by the Burlington Free Press.

Vermont’s resolution comes as the White House and Congress continue to try to hammer out a prescription drug direction. Last year, at least two bills were introduced in the House and Senate to limit pharma advertising. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced the Responsibility in Drug Advertising Act, which would have put a three-year ban on new drug advertising. And Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced a bill to the Senate that would have put an end to pharma companies’ ability to take tax deductions for drug advertising.

Trade associations have also called for drug ad rollbacks. The American Medical Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists within the past 18 months have both called for a ban on drug advertising.

Vermont’s call to action also includes several drug pricing relief measures, such as allowing the free trade of prescription drugs from Canada, along with calls for making drug costs more transparent and allowing Medicare to negotiate pricing directly with pharma companies.

PhRMA, though, doesn't much care for those proposals. “Harmful policies like those outlined in this resolution will not help patients. We need to focus instead on efforts that move our health care system toward one that rewards innovation, delivers better quality and puts the patient at the center of the value equation," spokeswoman Priscilla VanderVeer said in a statement.