More than one and a half years since the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) released its Guiding Principles for Direct-to-Consumer Advertising, I still cannot name all the 23 pharmaceutical companies that have signed on to abide by the principles.

I know there are 23 because I’ve read the articles that appeared in the press that mentioned this factoid. You won’t find the list on PhRMA’s Web site.

Rozerem Reminder Ad
Did Takeda Pharmaceuticals — the company that brought us Rozerem — sign on to the principles or not? Because if they did, they violated that commitment last night during the show 60 Minutes when they ran a Rozerem “reminder ad” (violation of principle #10: Information about the Medicine’s Approved Purpose and Major Risks). This ad featured an Abe Lincoln (“Hello. Honest Abe!”) and a beaver in a room without windows. Abe was amusing himself by flipping paper balls at the beaver. The name of the drug was mentioned, but nothing else. Aside from reminding me about Rozerem, it also reminded me how dumb this ad campaign really is!

BTW, although the Abe & beaver Rozerem ads have generated a lot of buzz in the press and in blogs like this one and have even won awards, they are ineffectual in actually increasing sales beyond the investment in the ads themselves (see “Rozerem Ads Innovatively Ineffectual” and “Lincoln Shot Dead! Beaver Sought for Questioning“).

Takeda may not have actually agreed to abide by ALL of PhRMA’s DTC principles, just one or two. For example, according to the article “23 Drug Companies Agree to New Guidelines on Advertising“, Takeda agreed to abide by Principle #6 (Education of Health Care Providers Prior to Launch of Advertising Campaign):

Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America officials said that the company will delay TV ads for the new insomnia treatment Rozerem and take time to educate physicians about the medication. “The last thing we want to do is drive patients into physicians’ offices asking them about a new product that physicians aren’t necessarily going to have all of the recent information on,” Takeda spokesperson Matt Kuhn said (Chicago Tribune, 8/3).

The funny thing is, some people have blamed the lagging sales of Rozerem on Takeda’s observance of Principle #6 (see “Lincoln Shot Dead! Beaver Sought for Questioning“).

My advice to Takeda: If you’re going to abide by the DTC Guidelines on a piecemeal basis, you might as well pick the ones without an impact on sales! Duh!