March 2, 2007

Legislative Activity


March 2, 2007

To: AAF Members

From: Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – Government Affairs

Re: Urgent Action Needed on Senate Bill Restricting Advertising



Senators Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., have introduced drug safety legislation with three provisions that would restrict advertising for prescription drugs. S. 484, the Enhancing Drug Safety and Innovation Act, would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to ban ads for new prescription medications for up to two years, require government preclearance of advertising content and mandate certain warning language to be included in advertising.

This situation is particularly serious because Senators Kennedy and Enzi are the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). We understand that the HELP Committee is tentatively scheduled to take up the bill at the end of March.

One of your senators is a member of the HELP Committee. It is very important that you contact him or her as soon as possible and ask that these advertising provisions be removed from the bill. Because of security restrictions on mail in the U.S. Capitol, the best way to get your message through is to e-mail or fax the staff member responsible for these issues.

Included in this alert are talking points on the issue, as well as a list of senators on the committee and their health staff.

Please send a copy of your communication to AAF headquarters. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any comments or questions. Thank you for your help with this urgent matter.

Talking Points for the Kennedy Enzi Drug Safety Bill (S. 484):

  • Prescription drug advertising informs consumers about health conditions and is directly responsible for prompting patients to see their doctors. Surveys by FDA (2002) and Prevention magazine (2004) indicate that advertising for prescription medication prompted 30 million Americans to talk to a doctor about a new or previously untreated health condition.
  • Advertising raises health awareness and can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment. Advertising can reach an estimated six million Americans who suffer from diabetes but have not been diagnosed. As many as 65 million Americans have high blood pressure, and yet it appears that 18 million are unaware they have this silent killer.
  • The Enhancing Drug Safety and Innovation Act of 2007 (S.484) contains three restrictions that would suppress the communication of health information to consumers.
    — A two-year moratorium on advertisements for prescription medication,
    — Preclearance by the federal government of advertisements, and
    — Authority for the government to mandate that certain language must be part of every advertisement.
  • These provisions could prevent millions of Americans from receiving information that would motivate them to talk to their doctor about an important health condition or get an examination that could reveal an undiscovered condition.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the importance of advertising to consumers in Thompson v. Western States Medical Center, 535 U.S. 357 (2002). Justice O'Connor, writing for the court, stated "if the First Amendment means anything, it means that regulating speech must be a last-not first-resort."
  • DTC advertising encourages greater patient compliance. As many as one-third of all patients fail to take all of their prescribed medicine. DTC ads help remind people to properly use their medicines. Thirty-three percent of respondents to a Prevention magazine study said the ads reminded them to refill their prescriptions, and 22 percent reported the ads made them more likely to take their medicine regularly.
  • The physician must write the prescription. Patients cannot go to a pharmacy and request a particular drug-a doctor must write the prescription after examining the patient and recommend the best treatment. FDA nevertheless requires that DTC advertising be accurate and balanced, and FDA has aggressively increased its oversight of these ads.
  • Advertising can erase the stigma that prevents some people from seeking medical treatment. A recent Keystone Research Center study found that 62 percent of Americans believe that advertising for prescription medications can make it less embarrassing to raise sensitive issues with your doctor.

Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee
Member Staff List

Alaska
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Legislative Assistant: Maggie Elehwany
maggie_elehwany@murkowski.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-6665
Fax: (202) 224-5301

Colorado
Senator Wayne Allard
Legislative Assistant: Jennifer Claypool
jennifer_claypool@allard.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-5941
Fax: (202) 224-6471

Connecticut
Senator Chris Dodd
Legislative Assistant: Tamar Magarik
tamar_magarik@help.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-2823
Fax: (202) 224-1083

Georgia
Senator Johnny Isakson
Legislative Assistant: Tyler Thompson
tyler_thompson@isakson.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-3643
Fax: (202) 228-0724

Illinois
Senator Barack Obama
Legislative Assistant: Ed Romas
ed_romas@obama.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-2854
Fax: (202) 228-5417

Iowa
Senator Tom Harkin
Legislative Assistant: Mike Woody
mike_woody@help.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-3254
Fax: (202) 224-9369

Kansas
Senator Pat Roberts
Legislative Assistant: Jennifer Swenson
jennifer_swenson@roberts.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-4774
Fax: (202) 224-3514

Maryland
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Legislative Assistant: Ellen-Marie Whelan
ellen-marie_whelan@help.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-4654
Fax: (202) 224-8858

Massachusetts
Senator Ted Kennedy, Chairman
Legislative Assistant: David Dorsey
david_dorsey@help.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-4543
Fax: (202) 224-2417

New Hampshire
Senator Judd Gregg
Legislative Assistant: Liz Wroe
elizabeth_wroe@budget.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-3324
Fax: 224-4952

New Mexico
Senator Jeff Bingaman
Legislative Assistant: Dr. Nancy Hardt
nancy_hardt@bingaman.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-5521
Fax: (202) 224-2852

New York
Senator Hillary Clinton
Legislative Assistant: Andrea Palm
andrea_palm@clinton.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-4451
Fax: (202) 228-0282

North Carolina
Senator Richard Burr
Legislative Assistant: Jenny Ware
jenny_ware@help.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-3154
Fax: (202) 228-2981

Ohio
Senator Sherrod Brown
Deputy Chief of Staff: Eleanor Dehoney
eleanor_dehoney@brown.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-2315
Fax: (202) 228-6321

Oklahoma
Senator Tom Coburn
Legislative Assistant: Stephanie Carlton
stephanie_carlton@coburn.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-5754
Fax: (202) 224-6008

Rhode Island
Senator Jack Reed
Legislative Assistant: Lisa German-Foster
lisa_german@reed.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-4642
Fax: (202) 224-4680

Tennessee
Senator Lamar Alexander
Chief of Staff: Tom Ingram
tom_ingram@alexander.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-4944
Fax: (202) 228-3398

Utah
Senator Orrin Hatch
Legislative Assistant: Guy Clifton
guy_clifton@hatch.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-5251
Fax: (202) 224-6331

Vermont
Senator Bernie Sanders
Chief of Staff: Jeff Weaver
jeff_weaver@sanders.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-5141
Fax: (202) 228-0776

Washington
Senator Patty Murray
Legislative Assistant: Paula Burg
paula_burg@murray.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-2621
Fax: (202) 224-0238

Wyoming
Senator Michael Enzi, Ranking Member
Legislative Assistant: Amy Muhlberg
amy_muhlberg@help.senate.gov
Phone: (202) 224-3424
Fax: (202) 228-0359