My friend Rich Meyer over at DTC Marketing Blog wrote an inflammatory-sounding post titled “Time to eliminate fair balance on DTC ads.” With a title like that, this post is sure to be read by a lot of pharma marketing pundits.
But Meyer is not talking about TV or print drug ads directed at consumers. He specifically is referring to online direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising:
“…fair balance online and in search makes no sense. Patients are not going to see an online ad or search copy without doing more research and the FDA needs to acknowledge this by revising guidelines.”
Recall that in DTC advertising, fair balance refers to the presentation of accurate and fair assessment of the risks as well as the benefits of the drug (more here).
“DDMAC needs to come into the 21 century and provide guidelines that are realistic on how patients make healthcare decisions,” says Meyer. “Too many online drug ads provide little in the way of benefits because there is so much fair balance. Does DDMAC and the FDA really believe that someone is going to see an ad for a prescription drug and ask their doctor about it without doing more research?”
It sounds like Meyer is urging the FDA to re-instate the “one-click rule,” which the agency shot down in those famous 14 NOV letters in April, 2009. That would mean reversing itself and losing face. But wait! DDMAC no longer exists! It was reorganized as the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP)! OPDP can reverse the old DDMAC (Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications) ruling on the one-click rule and the FDA won’t lose face! Brilliant!
BTW, Meyer isn’t alone in wishing the return of the one-click rule; see “Pharma Prefers ‘1-Click Rule’ for Presenting Fair Balance in Social Media & Other Internet-based Rx Ads” and “Merck Says FDA Should Approve the ‘One-Click Rule’“.