Some time back, a cadre of U.S. lawmakers suggested that drugmakers' ability to market brand-new meds should be curtailed. Although some companies already forego direct-to-consumer advertising for a drug's first six months on the market, these lawmakers proposed mandating a two-year waiting period.
The lawmakers reason that two years of real-world use could flag potential safety problems before TV viewers and magazine readers are inundated with marketing messages. Furthermore, less DTC might mean less unnecessary drug-switching, saving the government money as patients use cheaper, older drugs instead. Or so the theory goes.
So, the Congressional Budget Office studied the potential effects of a two-year moratorium. As the Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports, the CBO finds that, with few new drugs coming onto the market each year--and DTC ads appropriate for only some of them--a two-year waiting period wouldn't affect DTC advertising much.
Prescription numbers could be affected, but it would all depend upon the drug, the CBO report says. Some patients who might benefit from a new treatment might not hear about it first thing. But safety risks might not be discovered any earlier if the new drugs didn't capture a large enough base of patients to turn up potential problems.