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Website targets DTC ads

Commercial Alert launches online offensive against industry over prescription drug advertising

Non-profit organisation Commercial Alert, which campaigns for tighter regulation of commerce, has launched a new website promoting the banning of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising in the US.

The group says the purpose of the website is to educate the American public ìabout the dangers of prescription drug advertising, and to mobilize thousands of Americans to voice their opposition to the adsî.

The website (www.stopdrugads.org) encourages visitors to send comments to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in opposition to DTC drug advertising. The FDA held two days of hearings on DTC prescription drug advertising in November 2005 and is accepting public comment on the issue until February 28.

ìIn effect, drug companies are practising medicine without a licence, and that should be illegal,î said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert. ìWe've got to halt prescription drug advertising before the next Vioxx tragedy happens.î

On October 27, Commercial Alert released a statement from 211 professors from US medical schools that ìdirect-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs should be prohibited.î The statement's endorsers include medical school professors from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Duke, University of California, San Francisco and other medical schools, along with two former editors-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to a Harris Poll in November, only 9 per cent of adult respondents believed that the pharmaceutical industry is ìgenerally honest and trustworthy.î Fifty-one per cent believed that the pharmaceutical industry ìshould be more regulated by the governmentî.

2nd September 2008

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