Spendings On Drug Promotion Grew By 10.6%

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Drug Promotion

Total spending on advertising by the pharmaceutical industry hasincreased by an average of 10.6% annually since 1996, when a rulechange allowed drug companies to advertise directly to consumers,according to a study published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters/Newark Star-Ledger reports.

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For the study, Julie Donohue of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Healthand colleagues analyzed industry data from three market-research firmsthat track drug industry advertising spending. According to the study,researchers "also obtained information from researchers and staffmembers at the FDA and other government agencies."

Thestudy found that overall spending on drug advertising increased from$11.4 billion in 1996 to $29.9 billion in 2005. Direct-to-consumeradvertisements, which account for 14% of total advertising spending bythe industry, increased by 330% from 1996 to 2005, the study found.

Despitethe increased spending on drug promotion, researchers said evidencesuggests that regulation of the ads is lacking. "In 2004, four (FDA)staffers were reviewing [DTC] advertisements, even though spending onthis form of advertising (and probably the volume of ads to review) hadincreased by 45%, from $2.9 billion to $4.2 billion," according to thestudy. Researchers found that FDA sent 21 letters in 2006 to drugcompanies warning them that their ads were minimizing risks orexaggerating effectiveness, compared with 142 letters in 1997. Inaddition, FDA in 1999 reviewed a ratio of 64% of ads broadcast ontelevision, compared with 32% of ads in 2004, the study found (Emery,Reuters/Newark Star-Ledger, 8/16).
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