The Roanoke Times ran an excellent editorial on Sunday, February 10. The editorial entitled, “Pull the Plug on TV Drug Ads,” was a rational and detailed analysis as to why the American Pharmaceutical Industry should not be allowed to market their drugs on television without strict oversight.
The editorial focused on the cholesterol lowering drug, Lipitor, but could have focused on any number of medications. In the case of Lipitor, the editorial noted the television ads feature Dr. Robert Jarvik, the celebrated inventor of artificial hearts, endorsing the benefits of this wonder drug. One scene in the ad shows a vigorous 61 year old rowing…but unbeknownst to the viewer the rower is not Dr. Jarvik but a stunt double. If that is not misleading…how about the fact that Dr. Jarvik isn’t (and probably never was) a practicing physician! He is a research physician…not a treating physician.
I don’t know who is going to police misleading advertising by Big Pharma. I don’t think it will be the FDA since they are under-staffed and under-funded and problems with this federal agency’s lack of oversight are too many to mention here. I doubt Congress is going to stop misleading ads by Big Pharma – as the pharmaceutical industry gives big money to re-election campaigns. What about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)?
Who will step up to the plate and regulate Big Pharma?