Although I have considerable respect for Congressman Markey, I most of the marketing "improvements," in the new Markey Waxman bill are simply marketing restraints. What an irony that two of the most articulate speakers in the U. S. House of Representatives would use censorship to as a way to help patients learn about the safety aspects of medicine.
Take a careful look at a couple of the restrictions.
1. Clearly an across the board ban on DTC the first three years after a drug's approval would be a violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has never approved censorship as a way to promote an informed population. Even more important, it would be a mistake. What if we have a new drug for bird flu about the time of an outbreak? Wouldn't we want the public to know in every possible way? Similarly, don't we want the public to know about any HPV virus drug that could save the life of hundreds of women? Ignorance is never preferable to education.
2. Mandatory review of the all DTC ads before airing is clearly the kind of "prior restraint" government censorship long banned by English common law and recognized by the Supreme Court as a violation of the First Amendment.
The Coalition for Healthcare Communication salutes companies for taking great care in their ads and following the PhRMA self-regulatory principles. We don't salute Congressmen who would make censorship FDA law. Congress should never force Congressman Markey submit his often pithy remarks to a censor before he is allowed to utter them, nor should Congress silence drug companies until some censor can pass judgment.
It's one thing for a speaker to hold his tongue, it's another for the government to tie it in knots.