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Financial ties between FDA, drug companies could get even stronger with new "pay to play" TV advertisement review service

Thursday, November 23, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: the FDA, drug ads, drug advertising

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(NewsTarget) Under a new deal, pharmaceutical companies will now begin paying fees to the FDA when it reviews television drug ads in return for the agency expediting the reviews, but a natural health author says the arrangement will only strengthen FDA/Big Pharma conflicts of interest if it goes through.

The fees for the reviews will reportedly go toward hiring people to conduct the ad reviews, and a large number of pharmaceutical companies are willingly submitting ads for review. The agreement will also be implemented concurrently with a separate deal, in which pharmaceutical companies will pay new user fees to the FDA whenever it reviews applications to market new drugs. Under this new agreement, experts predict drug makers will have to pay much larger amounts to the FDA than they do now, and the money is expected to go toward drug-safety initiatives.

The FDA's parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, has not yet signed off on the deals and they must also meet Congressional approval before they are finalized. If approved, the deals will start Oct. 1, 2007, the beginning of the government's 2008 fiscal year.

For fiscal year 2007, the FDA is expected to receive more than $300 million in user fees under the current arrangement, but experts say the new agreement could increase that figure by a third.

"This idea makes about as much sense as having drug companies pay the FDA to review their drugs, and we've already seen the disastrous results of that," said Mike Adams, an FDA critic and natural health author. "The FDA is already far too financially involved with Big Pharma. If anything, the agency needs to break all ties with drug companies and stop using drug money to cover its expenses.

"Besides," he added, "shouldn't all television advertising of prescription drugs be banned in the first place? The United States is the only nation in the world where this deceptive practice remains legal."


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