Group Launches New Dereg Attack

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Activist group Citizens for Sensible Safeguards is launching a new Web site Tuesday and releasing a report on what it says is the Bush administration's systematic dismantling of regulatory protections, including those on media ownership and drug advertising.

With groups like Consumers Union and moveon.org in the membership ranks (which total some 300 groups), it is not surprising that media dereg comes in for its share of criticism.

In addition to the general rollback of ownership regulations, the groups target what they say is a "dramatic drop" in enforcement regulations on drug advertising.

"From December 2001 to September 2002," the report says "the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued just 19 "notices of violation" or "warning" letters (an average of just two per month).

In the three previous years, FDA sent 253 of these letters to manufacturers, or almost 85 per year." The number of direct-to-consumer ads submitted to the FDA for review in 2002 increased by 75%, they say, but FDA enforcement actions dropped by almost half. "The drug industry, which gave $5.7 million to 2000 Bush campaign efforts, faces virtually no deterrent to misleading consumers," the report says.

John Kamp, of counsel, Wiley, Rein & Fielding, and a longtime pharmaceutical advertising advocate, characterizes the DTC charges as "a sermon to the left wing, who are already converted." Kamp says he doesn't think the report will convince anyone who knows about the value of DTC advertising to consumers. "This is not designed for the political middle."

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