Tauzin: Pharma must embrace new code

The current PhRMA president was full of cagey cautions during a conference call with drug makers. "Your house is on fire, and you're still smoking in bed," said the former Louisiana Republican congressional representative, Billy Tauzin, also known as "The Cagey Cajun."

Last week PhRMA announced a new voluntary code for drugmakers and had been working on creating a more comprehensive DTC code, but on the latter, a few large members were ahead of the curve. 

Earlier this year, following the a particularly excruciating House hearing in May regarding direct-to-consumer advertising, at least a few companies announced temporary moratoria on ads for new medications and said they would reconsider and limit the roles of physicians in their ads. J&J, Merck, Pfizer and Schering-Plough made those announcements just a few weeks after the hearing.

Now Tauzin says he'll be happy if those companies and others adopt new guidelines that prohibit pens, mugs and drug dinners.

However, some are saying the revised PhRMA code doesn't do nearly enough. According to The Boston Globe, "the revised PhRMA code is neither adequately enforced nor sufficiently stringent to end this unethical marketing practice," in an article that said a law would do the trick, not a code. "The industry has been allowed to self-regulate for years and evidence shows the giving of inappropriate gifts and payments continues to increase significantly."

"Our members were advertising life-saving medicines like it's Pepsi, and that hurt us," Tauzin said.

- get the WSJ blog take
- read more at the Boston Globe