Drugmakers to delay new-drug ads

There's a waiting period for marriage licenses, IPOs, and flood insurance--and now, drug advertising. Several big drugmakers called on the Congressional carpet for their advertising campaigns now say they'll wait six months after FDA approval to start touting new meds to the public. They also said they'd follow AMA guidelines for using actors to play doctors on TV.

But Michigan Dems Bart Stupak and John Dingell aren't satisfied with these concessions. They'd asked for a two-year waiting period, for one thing. And as Merck explained in a letter to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, a six-month quietus after FDA approval is already somewhat customary, because drugmakers like to educate docs about new products before driving patients into their offices with DTC ads. The committee also had asked the companies to advertise drugs only when they've proven effective in outcomes studies.

You'll recall that Stupak and Dingell have been breathing down pharma's neck all year, with hearings on everything from clinical trials to outsourcing to, of course, DTC advertising. The DTC hearing focused on Pfizer's Lipitor ads starring artificial-heart inventor Robert Jarvik, on Johnson & Johnson's commercials for the anemia treatment Procrit, and Merck and Schering-Plough's food-and-family ads for their combo cholesterol med Vytorin.

- see the committee's statement about the six-month wait
- check out the Advertising Age story
- find the post at the Wall Street Journal Health Blog