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The FDA On Madison Avenue

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a deal in place that for the first time would allow pharma companies to pay fees for the FDA to review their drug advertisements. It is all being done in the hope of faster reviews. It’s not such a bad idea.

But I’ve got another idea to take it a step further that would help speed up review of drug advertising. Put together a citizen panel to check these ads before they go on air. We’ve all seen television ads for numerous new drugs, particularly the lifestyle drugs, that are simply laughable. The FDA can’t legislate good taste, I suppose, but maybe it should.

And many don’t believe some claims being made in a number of these advertisements. You’ know what I’m talking about – you’re in the middle of watching a football game, one of these ads comes on and everyone starts cracking jokes about it. One look at a proposed ad by a citizen panel would get an immediate reaction and give the FDA the feedback they really need. FDA staffers may not to able to really see an ad from the point of view of the public since they are dealing with the industry every day. The view from inside from a federal agency can get insular.

Pharmaceutical companies are expected to pay up to a $50,000 fee to the FDA for each TV ad campaign review. Throw a little more in the pot to set up a citizen panel, and the FDA and Madison Avenue may get better results.

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