Congress to Scrutinize Device Ads

September 23rd, 2008 | Sources: Associated Press, NY Times

The Senate Committee on Aging will soon hold a hearing about direct-to-consumer ads for medical devices.

Herb Kohl (D-Wisc), Chairman of the committee, indicated the hearing was necessary to decide whether the FDA ought to ramp up its oversight of device promotions to match what it already does for drug ads. “The medical device industry is just beginning to get into the game,” he said.

DTC advertising for medical devices nearly doubled between 2005 and 2007, to approximately $193 million. This is peanuts compared to the $5 billion spent annually on prescription drug promotions, but some people believe medical device advertising can have a disproportionately large impact on consumers. Surgery is after all usually required to implant medical devices and the devices remain in situ for years.

Currently, TV promos for medical devices are not required to address risks and benefits as are those for pharmaceuticals.

Johnson & Johnson promotes its artificial hips with ads featuring iconic Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. The ad shows people jumping rope and surfing, among other things. In spots for its competing product, Biomet features former Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton.


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