WASHINGTON DC: Documentary film maker Michael Moore, a thorn in the flesh of the Bush administration and corporate America, has lined up his next target: the nation's healthcare industry.

Pharmaceutical company employees have been ordered not to cooperate with Moore as he prepares Sicko, a likely unflattering portrait of the $1.5 trillion (€1.16tr; £793bn) healthcare business.

Nervous trade body the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is already shoring-up its defenses: "A review of America's health-care system should be balanced, thoughtful and well-researched to pin down what works and what needs to be improved. You won't get that from Michael Moore."

Comments the Academy Award winning film-maker's website: "I don't think the country needs a movie that tells you that HMOs [health insurers] and the pharmaceutical companies suck. Everybody knows that. I'd like to show you some things you don't know. So stay tuned for where this movie has led me. I think you might enjoy it."

Drugs giants in the US are currently under pressure from advocacy and health groups who claim their direct-to-consumer advertising is potentially misleading and dangerous.

PhRMA is anxious to head off legislation to control ads and has so far been successful in persuading lawmakers that self-regulation is enough to curb the worst excesses.

Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff