The Drug Advertising Debate

Some members of Congress want to limit Big Pharma's ability to promote products directly to consumers. But the roadblocks are high

If Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) had his way, the little butterfly used to advertise the insomnia remedy Lunesta might not be allowed to flutter all over our TV screens, as it has incessantly since the drug was approved in late 2004. Waxman believes the U.S. Food & Drug Administration should be able to forbid companies from advertising directly to consumers until new drugs have been on the market for at least three years. He tried to mandate such a restriction by attaching it to a drug-safety bill. But on July 11 he came up short. After a debate centered on drug companies' right to free speech, the bill passed with virtually all restrictions on drug advertising stripped out (see, 8/6/07, "Dispense with TV Drug Ads").

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