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Executive Summary

APhA ALLOWED TO COMMENT ON Rx ADVERTISING TO CONSUMERS following modification of a 1981 Justice Dept. consent decree that prohibited the American Pharmaceutical Assn. from making any statements pertaining to Rx drug advertising. The Justice Dept. published a modification of its order in the Federal Register May 2. Michigan Federal Court Judge Wendell Miles, who is presiding in the case, explained in his decision that the modification "protects the purposes underlying the decree by prohibiting [APhA and the Michigan State Pharmaceutical Assn.] from discouraging pharmacist advertising but, at the same time, permits [them] to address to legislative and administrative bodies . . . concerns regarding drug advertising directly to consumers." The modification states: "Nothing [in the final judgment] shall prohibit defendants [APhA and the Michigan State Pharmaceutical Assn.] from urging any state or federal legislature or administrative body to enact any law or regulation of general application to limit advertising directly to consumers by mfrs., provided that during such activities defendants and their members make clear they are not thereby restraining or discouraging defendants' members from pharmaceutical advertising." The Justice Dept.'s original decree was issued following a 1975 govt. complaint that alleged APhA and the Michigan State Pharmaceutical Assn. had conspired to eliminate competition among their members in the sale of Rx drugs and pharmacists' services. The suit specifically cited an APhA Code of Ethics provision condemning pharmacist "solicitation of professional practice by means of advertising." The Justice Dept. decree prohibited "any Code of Ethics or other standard policy statement (including the offending provision of APhA's Code)" regarding Rx drug advertising. The judgment will expire in 1991. Modification to the ruling was proposed by APhA. The Justice Dept. denied an earlier APhA proposal in 1984 that sought nearly unlimited public comment on drug mfrs.' advertising to consumers. Judge Miles commented that "the U.S. opposed APhA's [1984] motion on the grounds that such an unlimited modification would undermine the prophylactic purposes of the consent decree, particularly in light of APhA's history of anticompetitive opposition to prescription drug advertising."

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