Both sides of DTC debate rally while FDA holds panels

WASHINGTON: As the Food and Drug Administration holds public hearings on the future of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, groups with a stake in the process are working to make their views heard.

WASHINGTON: As the Food and Drug Administration holds public hearings on the future of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, groups with a stake in the process are working to make their views heard.

"DTC has to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up," said Peter Pitts, SVP of global health affairs at MS&L, who has served on prior FDA panels on DTC advertising and is now testifying on the issue. "Instead of talking about what's wrong, we have to talk about what's right."

Pitts' testimony will focus on the importance of using metrics to determine how best to present risk/benefit data.

"FDA is really strong on science; they're weak on social science," he said.

AstraZeneca, which also testified in front of the FDA, called for a mandatory regulatory review of all DTC materials. The drug company is going one step further than PhRMA's "Guiding Principles," which call for voluntary review.

"We're really going to stand for responsible advertising," said Andy Izquierdo, senior federal government PR manager.

Groups that oppose DTC advertising altogether are also rallying. Advocacy group Commercial Alert collected signatures from more than 200 medical school professors to present to the FDA.

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