September 20, 2007

Jeff Perlman, Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Coordinator – Government Affairs

Drug Safety Legislation Compromise Reached Without Advertising Restrictions

House and Senate leaders have reached a compromise on the conference committee report for a drug safety bill that omits advertising restrictions. The House has approved the final version of the bill, and the Senate is expected to vote on it this week before sending it to the president to sign. Plans to add advertising restrictions to the conference version of the bill were purportedly under consideration, but like the bills passed by the House and Senate, the restrictions are not present in the final conference report. The original version of the bills would have given the FDA authority 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 warning language to ads and packaging. These restrictions were removed from final versions of the bills because of work done by the AAF and a broad coalition of companies and trade associations.
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Media and Obesity Task Force Report Delayed

The final Joint Task Force on Media and Childhood Obesity report has been postponed for two weeks in order to accommodate scheduling difficulties, but with the added benefit that additional time might result in more progress made on food marketing issues. The task force was organized by Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, as well as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Michael Copps. Sen. Brownback noted that "this extension will allow the task force to build upon consensus items reached thus far and move toward our goal of developing bold and voluntary initiatives designed to achieve a healthier media environment that all segments represented by the task force can implement in order to protect the health of our nation's children."
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FTC Rejects Unfair Milk Advertising Claims

The Federal Trade Commission has decided not to formally investigate allegedly misleading claims made in milk advertising. Many dairy companies advertise their products as being free of recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST. Monsanto, which manufactures rBST, argued that consumers might think the synthetic hormone was dangerous if some dairy packaging promised rBST-free products. The FTC found that while many companies reference rBST in their packaging and on their Web sites, few make any health or safety claims related to the synthetic hormone. Additionally, the FTC contacted several small regional dairies to request they include disclaimer language indicating "no significant difference" in the safety of milk products with or without rBST.
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Ohio Court Rules on Unsolicited Commercial Faxes Lawsuit Limits

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that technical violations of unsolicited commercial fax rules do not allow individual recipients to sue senders for more than $500. According to the court's interpretation of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, individuals and businesses may sue for up to $500 for receiving unwanted faxes, but only businesses may sue if faxes omit identifying and contact information. The court noted that even though individuals may not claim additional penalties, they could encourage the state attorney general to take legal action against senders.
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Illinois Law Codifies Alcohol Marketing Self-Regulation

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed a law that codifies existing industry self-regulation efforts concerning alcohol advertising restrictions to minors. Senate Bill 1625, introduced by Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago, and State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, prohibits advertisements in Illinois for so-called "alcopops" near schools, youth athletics and other events and places where the audience is expected to be primarily children. The law also limits the use of cartoons and youth-oriented photos in flavored alcohol marketing and packaging. The alcohol industry already maintains a code of marketing practices for all alcoholic beverages with stricter standards than the new Illinois law.
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