US drug manufacturers have agreed to provide pharmacists, physicians, and other health care professionals with specialized education about new prescription medicines before launching any direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for those products.
The new arrangement is part of a series of voluntary industry guidelines covering DTC prescription ads that are set to take effect on January 1, 2006.
The guidelines, issued by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), require member companies to "spend an appropriate amount of time to educate health professionals" about new drugs before promoting them to the general public.
The PhRMA guidelines also call on manufacturers to submit all new DTC ads to the FDA for approval before dissemination, and to ensure that all future DTC ads "clearly state the health conditions for which the medicine is approved and the major risks associated" with the product. Additionally, PhRMA announced plans to establish a new "Office of Accountability" to receive and report on comments about DTC ads from pharmacists, physicians, and the general public.
Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.