The pharmaceutical industry's efforts to self-regulate its direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising are "an industry-sponsored ruse" intended to deflect criticism and collectively block new US federal regulation, a new study claims.
Reporting in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, the researchers studied the US marketing campaigns for three erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs - Pfizer's Viagra (sildenafil citrate), Eli Lilly's Cialis (tadalafil) and Bayer HealthCare's Levitra (vardenafil), marketed in the US by Bayer Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co - from 2006 to 2010.
All these companies have certified compliance with the Guiding Principles developed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Under these guidelines, a company must commit to internal processes to ensure compliance with the Principles, complete an annual certification of compliance and submit a document to PhRMA signed by the CEO and chief compliance offer attesting to compliance, note the study authors, Denis Arnold of the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Jim Oakley of Montana State University.
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However, the authors say they found "a clear pattern of non-compliance" to the Guiding Principles for the three drugs: - Eli Lilly's Cialis campaign consistently violated six principles, partially complied with two principles and fully complied with one; - Pfizer's Viagra campaign consistently violated five principles, partially complied with one principle and fully complied with two; and - Bayer Healthcare/GSK/Merck & Co's campaign for Levitra consistently violated five principles, partially complied with three and fully complied with one.