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Even as the pharmaceutical industry continually advertises its medicines, the Food and Drug Administration office that monitors promotions has been issuing fewer and fewer infraction letters to drug makers. And last year amounted to a new all-time low — only nine letters were issued.

Moreover, a trend may be shaping up. The combined number of letters issued over the past two years amounted to just 20, which was well below the number of letters sent each year between 2009 and 2013, according to the Eye on FDA blog, which tracks agency oversight of pharmaceutical marketing.


Over the past decade, the FDA Office of Prescription Drug Promotion generally sent recalcitrant drug makers between 20 and 30 letters each year, although it reached a high of 52 in 2010. But the agency issued more than 100 letters each year between 1997 and 1999. In 1998, 156 were issued, which was right after the FDA expanded the scope of direct-to-consumer advertising. 

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