Medical device industry tries to rein in marketing

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The medical device industry is trying to rein in a growing number of TV and magazine advertisements for hip replacements and other implants, amid congressional scrutiny of the marketing push.

On Thursday the industry’s leading trade group, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, or AdvaMed, rolled out its first guidelines for companies like Medtronic Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. Among other things, the voluntary guidelines urge companies to state the risks of their implants clearly and concisely when advertising them to consumers.

The rollout comes six months after some members of Congress suggested large-scale advertising of medical devices poses even greater risks than ads for drugs, which have been scrutinized for years. Because most medical devices must be implanted, they carry the risk of surgical complications that drugs do not.

And unlike drugmakers, device companies are not required to submit their advertisements to the Food and Drug Administration before releasing them.

With a popular president in the White House and larger majorities in both houses, industry observers say congressional Democrats could make a push this year to restrict advertising of both drugs and devices, which first became possible in 1997.

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who held hearings on device marketing last fall, said he hopes the industry’s self-policing efforts make legislation unnecessary.

“I will be paying close attention to how individual companies implement AdvaMed’s strengthened policies to ensure that consumers interests are protected,” Kohl, who chairs the Senate’s committee on aging, said in a statement.

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