This post was written by Jamie Schreiber.

On Dec. 10, 2008, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (“PhRMA”) released revised guidelines on direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) advertising that offer further direction to pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies on providing accurate, accessible and useful information to consumers. The revised “PhRMA Guiding Principles on Direct to Consumer Advertisements about Prescription Medicines” includes new guiding principles that address the use of actors or celebrities in DTC ads, recommending that ads should: identify when actors are playing the roles of health care professionals, acknowledge any compensation paid to actual health care professionals, and accurately reflect the opinions or experiences of celebrity endorsers. In addition, a new PhRMA principle states that print ads should include FDA’s MedWatch number, and TV ads should include a company’s toll-free number or refer patients to a print ad. There is also guidance on the content and placement of DTC ads with adult-oriented content; the presentation of risks and safety information in DTC ads; and strengthened language asking companies to include in their DTC ads information about help for the uninsured and underinsured.

The revised guidelines will take effect March 2, 2009. Company CEOs and Compliance Officers will certify each year that they have processes in place to comply with the guidelines, and PhRMA will post a list on its website of all companies that make such certifications.