November 2, 2005

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AAF Warns Against DTC Advertising Moratorium

Moratorium Seen as Risk to Public Access to Health Information


WASHINGTON, D.C.— The American Advertising Federation (AAF) today strongly warned against imposing moratoriums on direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising (DTC), stating that such action would dangerously hinder the public's access to quality medical treatment. AAF president & CEO Wally Snyder made the remarks at today's hearing on Direct-to-Consumer Promotion of Medical Products before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"Ultimately, the issue is not about moratoriums on advertising; it is about regulation. If a drug is not ready, by all means keep it off the market. But once approved, once the stringent requirements of clinical trials and other testing are done, and the drug approved, please do not send a mixed message by banning advertising. Regulate the drug, but do not impede the flow of truthful information," stated Snyder.

Critics concerned that DTC advertising is to blame for unnecessary use of prescription drugs and providing misinformation are misguided in their conclusions. According to Prevention's International Survey on Wellness and Consumer Reaction to DTC,such advertising "does not appear to overstate the benefits and understate the risks of advertised medicines." Importantly, the survey also found that "the increasing presence...of DTC advertising has not resulted in a surge of requests about or for advertised prescription drugs."

The AAF also asserts that DTC ads provide much needed information to low-income Americans with little access to physicians. "For too many underpriviledged Americans, health care means a trip to the emergency room. DTC advertising can help them avoid this by connecting them to the health care system before a crisis situation arises," Snyder said in his remarks.

In conclusion, Snyder pointed out the positive role advertising plays in empowering consumers with health information, by saying "DTC advertising...promotes a healthy diet and exercise and encourages people to talk to their doctors, leads to more cost-effective health care through early detection and provides a resource to underserved caregivers who need accurate drug-related information to manage the health of people in their care."

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The American Advertising Federation (AAF), headquartered in Washington, D.C., acts as the "Unifying Voice for Advertising." The AAF is the oldest national advertising trade association, representing 50,000 professionals in the advertising industry. The AAF has a national network of 200 ad clubs located in ad communities across the country. Through its 215 college chapters, the AAF provides 6,500 advertising students with real-world case studies and recruitment connections to corporate America. The AAF also has 130 blue-chip corporate members that are advertisers, agencies and media companies, comprising the nation's leading brands and corporations. For more information, visit the AAF's Web site at www.aaf.org.