June 20, 2007

Legislative Activity

June 20, 2007

To: AAF Members

From: Jeffry Perlman, Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Clark Rector, Senior Vice President – Government Affairs

Re: House Committee Rejects DTC Advertising Restrictions

Last night, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee accepted an amendment to the Drug Safety Act that repeals the restrictions on commercial speech contained in the original bill and gives the FDA authority to assess monetary penalties for advertising found to be false or misleading. This amendment essentially tracks the Roberts-Harkin amendment that was supported by the industry and passed the Senate last month.

The advertising provisions in the original bill included authority for the FDA to impose a three-year moratorium on prescription drug advertising, required preapproval of both individual DTC ads and comprehensive marketing plans and added additional and unwieldy mandatory warning language to ads and packaging.

Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., and Steve Buyer, R-Ind., sponsored the amendment repealing the restrictions. After much debate, the subcommittee approved the amendment by a vote of 23-9. Members of Congress who voted for the amendment were:

Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y.
Steve Buyer, R-Ind.
Nathan Deal, R-Ga.
Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas
Bart Gordon, D-Tenn.
Heather Wilson, R-N.M.
John B. Shadegg, R-Ariz.
Joseph R. Pitts, R-Pa.
Mike Ferguson, R-N.J.
Mike Rogers, R-Mich.
Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
Sue Myrick, R-N.C.
Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y.
John Sullivan, R-Okla.
Tim Murphy, R-Pa.
Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas
Mike Ross, D-Ark.
Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.
Anthony D. Weiner, D-N.Y.
Jim Matheson, D-Utah
John D. Dingell, D-Mich.
Joe Barton, R-Texas

Thanks in large part because of the tremendous grassroots efforts of the advertising industry, the members of Congress were able to convince their colleagues to accept the amendment. This successful conclusion would likely not have happened without the many calls and e-mails from AAF members and other industry representatives. A number of the subcommittee members acknowledged the grassroots support for the Towns amendment in their presentations.

All of the members of Congress who voted favorably on the bill deserve the industry's gratitude. Please take a moment to call or e-mail a word of thanks to them for their efforts. Contact information is available by entering your ZIP code at http://www.house.gov/writerep/.

The next steps are a vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, before a vote in the full House of Representatives and conference reconciliation with the Senate version of the bill. It is possible that opponents may try to revisit advertising restrictions. We will inform you of any new developments concerning the legislation.

Thank you for all of your work on this important issue and congratulations on a critical victory for commercial speech.