US drug manufacturers have agreedto provide pharmacists, physicians,and other health care professionalswith specialized education about newprescription medicines before launchingany direct-to-consumer (DTC)advertising for those products.
The new arrangement is part of aseries of voluntary industry guidelinescovering DTC prescription ads that areset to take effect on January 1, 2006.
The guidelines, issued by the PharmaceuticalResearch and Manufacturersof America (PhRMA), require membercompanies to "spend an appropriateamount of time to educate health professionals" about new drugs before promotingthem to the general public.
The PhRMA guidelines also call onmanufacturers to submit all new DTCads to the FDA for approval before dissemination,and to ensure that allfuture DTC ads "clearly state the healthconditions for which the medicine isapproved and the major risks associated" with the product. Additionally,PhRMA announced plans to establish anew "Office of Accountability" toreceive and report on comments aboutDTC ads from pharmacists, physicians,and the general public.
Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.