Montana Lawmakers Debate Rx Advertising Disclosure Proposal

APRIL 01, 2005
Ken Rankin

Representatives of the nation's pharmaceutical manufacturers are opposing radical new legislation under consideration in Montana that would require them to disclose how much they spend to promote their drugs in the state. The bill is a response to concerns raised by some consumer groups that escalating prescription drug advertising expenditures are fueling the increase in medication prices in Montana and elsewhere.

Although industry spending on product promotion has risen in recent years due to new federal rules allowing direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs, pharmaceutical industry leaders contend that rising Rx prices reflect sky-high research and development expenditures, not advertising costs.

Studies by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) support this argument. According to GAO researchers, drug manufacturers spent nearly $119 million on research and development from 1997 to 2001, compared with less than $10 million on consumer advertising.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.