November 16, 2007

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

Farm Bill Amendment Would Impose New Children's Marketing Restrictions

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., has introduced an amendment to the 2007 farm bill that would direct the Federal Trade Commission to develop new regulations for food marketing to children. The amendment is similar to a bill Kennedy introduced in 2005 that did not receive Congressional action. However, many of the proposals in the bill have already been instituted. For instance, the amendment calls for a national summit on food advertising, which the FTC and the Department of Health and Human Services held in 2005 and again in 2007, as well as the creation of a "Leadership Commission" similar to the talk force led by Sens. Sam Brownback, D-Kan., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. A vote to end debate on the farm bill failed in the Senate, meaning the legislation will likely not pass the Senate this year, and possibly not in 2008.
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Sen. Kennedy to Introduce Nonprescription Drug Advertising Bill

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said he will introduce a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration greater regulatory power over nonprescription pharmaceutical advertisements. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., had previously indicated his intent to introduce similar legislation in the House. Earlier this year, Congress voted to give the FDA increased authority over prescription drug advertising and allow it to fine marketers for false or misleading ads. Kennedy's Non-Prescription Drug Modernization Act would extend that authority to include over-the-counter drug ads and would label any product misbranded if the advertising is found to be false or misleading. So far, neither bill has been formally introduced.
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Advocacy Group Renews Call for DTC Ban

Commercial Alert, an advocacy group, has renewed its efforts to prohibit all direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertisements. The organization has drafted a bill endorsed by a number of health advocacy organizations that calls for a ban on drug advertising or, if such a ban is found unconstitutional, increased warnings on drug labels, removal of the tax deductibility of drug advertising and a new tax on profits earned by pharmaceutical companies. Earlier this year, Congress rejected calls for increased regulation of drug advertising, instead opting to impose harsh fines for drug companies who create false or misleading advertising. Commercial Alert has proposed similar bills in the past, but none have ever been considered by Congress.
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