Bristol-Myers Squibb will now wait at least a year before advertising new medicines directly to consumers as part of a dramatic new initiative, thought to be the first of its kind in the pharmaceutical industry.

In a statement posted on its website, B-MS said that it would instead concentrate on educating doctors about the new product during that period and get their input on prescribing the drug. In addition, when the firm does advertise on television, it will be “to appropriate audiences at appropriate times of the day.”

The firm added: “We will fully consider the benefits, risks and potential side effects of our medicines and the intended or unintended impact of communicating such messages to various audiences.”

As part of its new advertising policy, the firm said it would communicate the risks and benefits of its products in a language that consumers can understand. It added that it would also respect the role of the doctor in determining whether a particular treatment is appropriate.

A study released earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 50% of Americans has an unfavourable view of drug companies, while 18% said they felt they could trust what pharmaceutical companies say in their ads “most of the time” – a significant drop from 1997, when 33% said they could trust drug company ads “most of the time” [[28/02/05e]]. The Industry’s reputation has come in for a knocking in recent times, with many also believing firms are only concerned with profits.