Much of the media buzz that preceded last week’s FDA Part 15 hearing on DTC focused on words like “bans” and “restrictions” and “enforcement.”
But when the presentations were over and the auditorium was empty, the storyline had changed to “how can the existing system be made to work better.” Successful but not sexy.
Despite churlish howling from the likes of Peter Lurie, slanted research from Kaiser Permanente, a healthy dose of self-important academics, off-topic videos, and the “usual suspect” apocalyptic tales of DTC causing the demise of Western Civilization, it was a pretty good meeting. But you’d never know it from the almost complete dearth of media reporting (at least from the members of the Fifth Estate who work for daily newspapers). I’m sure that’s because the underlying theme from the FDA panelists (and the deliciously sassy comments from Bob Temple) made it pretty clear that the agency wants to find ways to help make DTC a more potent public health tool — not to eviscerate it as a tool altogether.
My suggestion — How about a standing FDA Advisory Committee on Patient Communications?
After eight panels and thirty-eight panelists (I was the 37th), the consensus take-away was that DTCA (“A” = Advertising) can be improved by embracing a concept that can be best described as DTCC (“C” = Communication), or DTC Squared. But you’d never know it by reading the newspapers.
I leave you with this quote from Mark Twain, “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”