Pharma and Device Blog Watch

November 14, 2007

RLS Foundation Calls for Boycott of Consumer Reports Over Ad Spoof (Pharma Marketing Blog)
A new series by Consumer Reports aims to entertain viewers with videos that will track and report on TV drug ads. The series, “Antidote to TV Drug Ads,” consists of videos that resemble YouTube-like spoofs, John Mack writes.

One video, a spoof of a GlaxoSmithKline Requip ad, attracted the attention of the Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Foundation, which encouraged its members to “fight back.”

“A video on consumerreports.org promises ‘relief from restless legs hype.’ The RLS Foundation is taking a tough stand against this type of bad press for RLS,” the foundation said in a special alert on its website. While it wasn’t bothered by the report on the drug, the group said it was concerned that the condition was being mocked and encouraged members to cancel their subscriptions to Consumer Reports.

“I am not going to deconstruct the RLS Foundation’s letter to Consumer Reports except to mention that it compares RLS to childhood asthma … and suggests that the side effects are worth it, considering that RLS can be a cause of suicide,” Mack says.

Whom Do Patients Trust With Their Healthcare Choices? (World of DTC Marketing)
Amgen is spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to change a Medicare rule that will affect the company’s anemia drugs, arguing that the federal guidelines limiting payments for the drugs could hurt cancer patients, Richard Meyer writes.

“So who knows better, the FDA, pharma or physicians?” he asks.

Pharma companies cannot promote their medicines off label, which leaves physicians as the primary drivers of off-label use. Federal guidelines are trying to control how physicians use drugs by removing payment support for the medications, rather than trusting the physicians’ judgment, according to the blog.

“DTC advertising and the internet have done much to make consumers more empowered when it comes to their healthcare choices. The evolutionary approach is one in which the patient trusts the healthcare professional but also makes informed and educated choices along with their physician. Now imagine a scenario in which your choices are limited not because of what your physician believes but because of federal guidelines,” Meyer writes.

Congress should listen to Amgen, who has the right to lobby for the guidelines to be changed, because it’s in the patients’ best interest to let doctors do what they do best, he says.