DTC in Perspective: A Bill to Ban DTC Introduced
Rosa Delauro, a Democrat congresswoman from Connecticut, introduced bill H.R 4565 on 2/12/16 that bans DTC ads in the first three years from approval. It also allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to continue the ban if the drug has had significant adverse events during those three years.
The drug companies can apply to do DTC and the Secretary can approve if it is a positive for public health. Obviously this bill is meant to permanently kill DTC since the adverse event standard is so vague the Secretary can point to them as an excuse to continue bans after three years.
I doubt this bill has any chance to get voted on. First, it is unconstitutional to ban commercial speech without proving the ban is the only way to protect public health. Second, the bill is so vaguely written as to allow such broad and arbitrary authority to the Secretary as to make it clearly a ban of speech. Third, the idea that commercial speech must first apply for that right and prove public interest in advance is unconstitutional.
This bill is merely a political statement from a hard core Liberal democrat. It is the type of nonsensical response from a politician who has no interest in understanding the real cost of drug development. Ms. Delauro prefers to blame advertising for drug prices being high. Somehow, she believes, that if only drugs could be prohibited from advertising, prices would drop dramatically. This is absolutely false and has no basis in fact.
While this bill will go nowhere it does show there is an appetite among Democrats to make drug companies a campaign cause this year. We can expect more bills to end DTC tax deductions, allow foreign drug imports, force drug companies to disclose promotion spending, give Medicare price negotiation authority, and limit patent life.
Any bill introduced in Congress that limits DTC is serious and sets a dangerous tone. The drug companies, media suppliers, and advertising agencies need to call their representatives to voice their opposition. The drug industry employs over 800,000 people directly in the United States and over 3 million indirectly rely on it for jobs. Those jobs can only survive with a profitable drug industry not singled out for punitive treatment. China and India would love to have those jobs and politicians need to be careful vilifying our vitally important drug business.