Friday, July 21, 2006

Minnesota Governor Calls For Two-Year Ban On Drug Ads

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty went after what he called "silly" prescription drug ads, calling for a two-year moratorium while federal regulators toughen their oversight. "These advertisements in many instances are really ridiculous - in my opinion, silly," Pawlenty said at a Capitol news conference, poking fun at commercials for an impotence drug that shows a middle-aged man throwing a football through a tire swing.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty
The Republican Governor said the ads contain little useful information but lead consumers to misguided self-diagnosis. He blamed the ads for rising prescription drug costs. Pawlenty said he would support an outright ban if it would hold up in court. At the state level, he also proposed legislation allowing state employees to police drug advertising and requiring drug makers to report how much they spend on advertising in the state. Attorney General Mike Hatch - a Democrat who hopes to unseat Pawlenty this fall - said the proposal wouldn't do enough to cut drug costs. Regulating prices and expanding purchasing pools would lower costs more effectively than banning ads, Hatch said. He said Pawlenty didn't support a drug marketing disclosure bill that failed in the 2004 Legislature.Opposition also came from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which issued a statement saying a ban would make it harder for patients to learn about new drugs. The ads lead patients to ask doctors for sleep aids, constipation remedies and other drugs when measures such as regular bedtimes or more fiber, water and exercise might suffice, said Dr. David Luehr, president of the Minnesota Medical Association. "When patients see an ad that is more a brand than a cure, it gets in the way," he said.