WASHINGTON DC: US pharmaceuticals giants have agreed to a six-month delay on direct-to-consumer advertising for new drugs and will limit how doctors are used in commercials.

Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are among the companies that have signed up to the moratorium as they address federal lawmakers' concerns that consumers are being misled by some drugs marketing.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had wanted a two year-plus moratorium on DTC ads for new prescription medicines.

The pharma companies have made their concessions in a bid to head off legislation that would curtail their marketing activities still further.

In addition, they says they will follow the American Medical Association's guidelines about using actors to portray physicians, while J&J has pledged not to use doctors in ads to discuss the benefits of a drug.

In a letter to the house committee, the company's chairman/ceo, William Weldon, said: "We have adopted internal guiding practices on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs [that] requires that our operating companies spend at least six months after approval of a new medicine educating health professionals before commencing a direct-to-consumer advertising campaign."

Democrat senator Bart Stupak welcomes the limited steps takes by the firms but hopes continuing "discussions with Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America will result in an industry position that addresses the concerns that Pfizer, Merck, Schering-Plough and Johnson & Johnson continue to ignore."

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