New advertising guidelines being adopted by the pharmaceutical industry Tuesday will include a requirement that televised commercials clearly present drug risks and promote conversations with doctors. But the new rules are probably not restrictive enough to satisfy critics.
AdAge.com published the 15-point guidelines on its Web site Tuesday ahead of their formal release later in the day by the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America (search) at a meeting in Dallas.
Drug advertising has come under fire from critics who contend that pricey campaigns lead people to take medicines they don't really need. Those complaints intensified after Merck & Co's pain reliever Vioxx (search) was withdrawn last September.
The new industry code doesn't include specific measures some critics have requested such as a moratorium on ads following a product's approval and limits on when sensitive medicine such as erectile dysfunction drugs could be advertised.
Instead, the guidelines say that to foster communication between patients and health care professionals, companies should spend an "appropriate time to educate health professionals" about new treatments before beginning direct-to-consumer campaigns. It also said ads should be targeted to avoid audiences that are not age-appropriate for the commercial.
The guidelines also say that companies should submit all new televisions ads to the Food and Drug Administration for review before they are broadcast. Companies have always had the option of clearing ads with the FDA and many choose to do so when they first introduce products.
However, it is not mandatory and many critics complain that by the time the FDA determines an ad is misleading it has already stopped running.
Officials at the trade group didn't immediately return a call for comment.
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA could announce as soon as Tuesday that it would examine its drug advertising policies, which could lead to tougher regulations.