Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is preparing to take the reins as Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, when new Congress convenes in January.
One of his top priorities, along with health-care issues, is to give regulators the authority to impose a two-year ban on consumer ads when a new drug first reaches the market and risks are not fully known.
“Drug companies vigorously market their products and engage in direct-to-consumer advertising during the first few years of approval. This in turn increases the amount of consumers exposed to safety risks long before they are fully understood, said Waxman in a conference sponsored by the watchdog group, The Prescription Project.
The goal of the Prescription Project, a known critic of industry marketing, is to avoid compromises in patient care resulting from conflicts of interest that erode public confidence in the medical profession.
In 2007, Waxman supported congressional efforts to allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban television commercials for new drugs up to three years if officials deemed it necessary to protect the public health.
Following objections by some lawmakers that said it would infringe the constitutional protections of free speech, efforts failed. Congress, instead, granted the FDA the power to fine drug companies that run false or misleading promotions.
Television commercials by Drugmakers have often come under fire for downplaying associated side effects, over promising benefits and excessive prescribing.
Drug companies argue that the ads inform consumers about new treatments available that may benefit them. Voluntary guidelines adopted by drugmakers’ call for companies to withhold consumer advertising for “an appropriate period of time,” so they can first advise doctors about new medicines.
The California Democrat is also committed to the development and distribution of generic biotech drugs, a move that drug companies are likely to embrace and granting the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. #