Dorgan attacks pharma TV ads


Byron Dorgan (D-ND) took to the Senate floor to protest the practice of drumming up demand among consumers for prescription drugs via television advertising and then keeping the price at a high level, actually reading from the scripts of five such ads.

They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, and if that’s the case, Dorgan gave free plugs to Boniva, Ambien CR, Lunesta, Flomax and Enablex. He said he had a couple of dozen other scripts that he could have used to continued his bare-bones script reading.

Dorgan said that the high cost of prescription drugs is a problem and that the purpose of the pricy ad campaigns was to create demand for the drugs, bombarding doctors with a flow of consumers seeking the necessary prescriptions.

Prescription drug advertising has often come under attack on Capitol Hill, and eliminating business tax deductions for such advertising came up earlier during the 2009 health care debate; although Dorgan noted that nothing addressing pharmaceutical advertising is in any current bill.

Dorgan is sponsoring an addition to the health care bill that would allow the importation of drugs from other nations, as long as they are approved by the FDA. He believes that will provide the competition necessary to create downward pressure on domestic drug prices. That bill makes no mention of advertising.

Dorgan also said he was distressed by dishonest television advertising attacking health care reform efforts.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is another one of those Capitol Hill topics that refuses to go away. Perhaps Dorgan himself will offer an anti-pharma ad amendment to the bill the Senate is currently considering. If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised to see it pop up again within a year or three.