Vermont senators call for restraints on “beautiful” pharma advertising

pharmafile | March 6, 2017 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Sales and Marketing Bernie Sanders, Vermont, pricing 

Bernie Sanders is yet again leading the charge against US pharma as Vermont senators have rallied against advertising and marketing campaigns which portray drug products in a ‘beautiful’ light.

The bipartisan group of four legislators, led by Sanders, have proposed a moratorium to the FDA on “the promotion of prescription drugs directly to consumers” in a bid to specifically “restrain the huge expenditures by pharmaceutical companies on advertising and marketing.” They argue that the budgets employed in the US allow firms to heavily distort the sometimes harsh realities of treatment.

Senator Ginny Lyons, one of the four legislators, stated: “Those advertisements are pictures of beautiful landscapes and people having a great time, and yet the side effects are discussed — might cause liver cancer or death — and those are minimised by the perception of the beautiful landscape that we’re seeing.”

When Senator Joe Benning questioned whether such legislation would be a “direct attack” on free speech rights, Lyons likened the proposed solution to bans on cigarette advertising.

The proposed solution also calls for free trade of prescription drugs between the US and Canada, and would enact legislation compelling pharma companies to amortise any R&D expenditures if they are in receipt of federal funding.

While the legislators argue that the tenets of the solution would lead to lowered drug costs, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has rejected the solution offered by the group, with spokeswoman Priscilla VanderVeer noting: “Harmful policies like [these] will not help patients. We need to focus instead on efforts that move our health care system toward one that rewards innovation, delivers better quality and puts the patient at the centre of the value equation.”

The proposition is up for final approval from the Senate this week.

Matt Fellows

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