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US congressmen challenge pharma DTC

The US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce has called on the pharmaceutical industry to stop what it has referred to as deceptive marketing practices

The US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce has called on the pharmaceutical industry to stop what it has referred to as deceptive marketing practices.

The congressmen leading expressed concern that pharma companies have not yet offered assurances that they will provide consumers with accurate information about drug therapies. Letters have been sent to Merck & Co, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough asking that direct-to-consumer (DTC) campaigns be halted until further studies on the issue are completed.

"Patient health should always trump corporate profits," said congressman John Dingell, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. "Marketing department leaders have failed to commit to reducing misleading and deceptive ads, so we're asking the CEOs to make this agreement."

Congressman Bart Stupak, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, said: "Pharmaceutical companies should consider it a privilege to air DTC ads and, as with all privileges, there comes responsibility. We intend to make certain that drug companies market their products properly."

An investigation into DTC practices was launched in January 2008 and looked at ads for products manufactured by Merck, Schering-Plough and Johnson & Johnson. Based on hearings held in May, Dingell and Stupak wrote to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) saying that current guidelines do not prevent misleading and deceptive marketing practices.

PhRMA has said that the industry is committed to providing accurate medicine information to consumers and to having an open and honest dialogue with the members of congress.

22nd May 2008

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