Monday, June 15, 2009

Court challenge of ban on DTC drug ads is postponed

A court challenge of the federal direct-to-consumer drug advertising ban, led by Canwest Global Communications, due to be heard next week, has been delayed until the fall, according to a story in Marketing.

The case is of interest particularly to consumer magazine publishers who are now forbidden from carrying such advertising though their competitors coming over the border from the U.S. simply ignore the ban.

John Douglas, Canwest's vice-president, public affairs, said there was mutual consent from the government and intervenors to wait until the fall.

“For us from a business perspective, the timing is better as well,” he said.
Canwest is struggling at the moment to restructure and get out from under a $4 billion mountain of debt.

Lawyer Steven Shrybman, who represents a number of intervenor groups including the Canadian Health Coalition and Women and Health Protection, said the case could be revived with 60 days' notice.

“We don’t think the case has any merit,” Shrybman said. “Whatever process they go through now to restructure, we hope they reconsider this ill-conceived litigation and abandon it.”

Currently, Health Canada allows drug makers to advertise the name of a drug without stipulating what it is for, or advertise about a medical condition, while urging sufferers to seek medical help. Similar to the case with magazines, Health Canada does not enforce these rules on cable or satellite TV operators to block drug ads on U.S. channels available to Canadians.

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