PHARMACY

Congressmen call for more thorough review of direct-to-consumer drug advertising

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Investigating direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription pharmaceutical products, Reps. Bart Stupak and John Dingell, Democrats of Michigan, sent letters Tuesday to companies and government agencies involved.

“We have serious concerns that the leading pharmaceutical companies do not share our commitment to providing consumers with accurate information about drug therapies,” Dingell said in a statement. “As certain drug companies place corporate profits above patient health, it appears they are even willing to ignore FDA recommendations.”

The letters went to FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, Shaw Science Partners president and EthicAd executive director Michael Shaw, Bayer HealthCare president Gary Balkema and Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt.

In their letter to von Eschenbach, the lawmakers questioned the development of an FDA DTC Web site, “Be Smart About Prescription Drug Advertising: What You Should Know about Prescription Drug Advertisements,” which gives examples of proper and improper DTC ads. A news report showed that the developer of the site as EthicAd, a non-profit organization started by Shaw Science Partners, a public relations firm for the pharmaceutical industry.

According to its Web site, Shaw has worked on the launch of more than 30 drugs, including Johnson & Johnson’s Procrit, which was removed from the market due to safety problems.

“It’s shameful that consumers have to rely on the oversight function of Congress to make sure drug companies tell the truth in their ad campaigns,” Stupak said in the statement.

Letter to the FDA:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI_101408.DTCFDA.pdf

Letter to Shaw Science Partners:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI.101408.DTCShaw.pdf

Letter to EthicAd:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI_101408.DTCEthicAd.pdf

Letter to HHS:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI.101408.DTCHHS.pdf

Letter to Bayer HealthCare:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI.101408.DTCBayer.pdf

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Medicare patients not getting cancer screenings often enough

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina shows that screening rates for certain types of cancer among older Medicaid patients lag behind national objectives.

The study, published in the Oct. 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine and based on documented evidence, analyzed 1,951 Medicaid recipients in North Carolina aged 50 and older and found that physicians recommended screening for colorectal, breast and cervical cancer to 52.7 percent, 60.4 percent and 51.5 percent of patients, respectively.

Respective rates of adequate screening for the three cancers were 28.2 percent, 31.7 percent and 31.6 percent.

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Report shows Philadelphia has high rate of those treated for diabetes type 2

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA Percentages of people in Philadelphia who receive services to treat type 2 diabetes are higher than national averages. At the same time, the percentage of working-age people with the disease is higher in the city than the national average.

These are some of the results in the Greater Philadelphia Type 2 Diabetes Report for 2008, released Wednesday by the Greater Philadelphia Diabetes Coalition, which analyzed the demographics, costs and quality of care for people in the city with type 2 diabetes. The report included data from around the city’s metropolitan area, as well as western Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, N.J.

“GPDC helped develop the Greater Philadelphia Type 2 Diabetes Report to serve as a useful resource for employers, illustrating the seirous negative impact diabetes has on the Greater Philadelphia area,” GPDC chairman Dr. Ronald Brooks said. “This report points out the need to prevent diabetes through exercise and prudent nutrition as well as the importance that people with diabetes receive optimal care, based on evidence-based guidelines.”

The report also shows that 57 percent of Philadelphia residents in 2007 were between 18 and 64 years old, higher than the national average of 52.3 percent. In Atlantic City, the rate was 59.4 percent.

It also shows that costs for care of people with Type 2 diabetes are higher in Philadelphia than in the other five markets profiled. In 2007, the average hospital inpatient charges for treating Type 2 diabetics was $95,813, almost twice as high as the national average of $49,870. Hospital outpatient charges were $6,168, while the national average was $4,673.

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