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CBS Rx DRUG AD GUIDELINES FOR TV EXCLUDE ANY SCHEDULED PRODUCTS

Executive Summary

CBS Rx DRUG AD GUIDELINES FOR TV EXCLUDE ANY SCHEDULED PRODUCTS, unapproved drugs, or unapproved indications. The CBS Television Network guidelines, released Oct. 23, define Rx drug products that would be acceptable for advertising directly to the consumer. The advertised drug, CBS says, "must have a 'low abuse potential,' and must not be listed in Schedules I through V of Title II of the Federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970." In addition, the drug "may not be under developmental investigation by the FDA for any of the indications discussed in the commercial" and "must have a documented safety and efficacy record." CBS states its scientific basis criteria for claims in a phrase: "all health-related and technical claims must be adequately supported by clinical and other responsible scientific evidence." Further, the guidelines state that "commercials should disclose that all Rx drugs have some side effects and viewers should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the drug in their situation." The network did not say how it would handle brief summary information. CBS regards as unacceptable commercials which "tend to frighten or are overly emotional," regardless of the validity of any claim being made. CBS said it submitted the guidelines to both FDA and Rep. Dingell's (D-Mich.) Energy & Commerce/Oversight and Investigations Subcmte., and that it had incorporated their suggestions into the guidelines. CBS has been closely monitoring the issue of Rx direct advertising to consumers. Two years ago the network conducted a survey of consumer attitudes, concerns and information needs regarding Rx drugs, the results of which were released in February 1984 ("The Pink Sheet" Feb. 13, 1984, p. 12). On the basis of that study, CBS concluded that "health care communications can be improved through direct-to-consumer advertising of Rx drugs which meet high standards of education and information." The network developed the guidelines on its own initiative after FDA lifted the moratorium against direct-to-consumer advertising in September. CBS said several companies have expressed interest in Rx consumer advertising, but no specific ads have been proposed. Merrell Dow has reportedly discussed one consumer campaign with FDA. The company recently ran a "Quit" smoking advertisement in wide-circulation magazines that was essentially an Rx consumer ad without a product name and warning material.
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