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AMA: Drug Ads Marketed Directly to Consumers Should Be Banned

Image: AMA: Drug Ads Marketed Directly to Consumers Should Be Banned
Prescription pill bottles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 19 Nov 2015 08:44 AM

The AMA pushed for a ban on drug ads this week, claiming that direct-to-consumer marketing could be driving patients to demand expensive treatments over other, more cost-effective options.

The American Medical Association followed in the footsteps of the World Health Organization, the National Center for Health Research, and other groups Tuesday in calling for a ban on direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising, according to the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper stated that the United States and New Zealand are the only nations that allow drug companies to advertise directly to customers.

"Today's vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices," Dr. Patrice A. Harris, the association's chair-elect, said in an AMA statement. "Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate."

But PhRMA, the largest U.S. trade group for the pharmaceutical industry, supports the ads, and said that the marketing improves consumer awareness of available treatments for diseases and undiagnosed conditions, according to Reuters.

"Providing scientifically accurate information to patients so that they are better informed about their health care and treatment options is the goal of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising about prescription medicines," PhRMA spokesman Tina Stow told the news agency in an email.

Drug advertisements have ramped up over the past couple years, with drug-maker spending increasing 30 percent in the last two years for a total of $4.5 billion, according to figures from market research firm Kantar Media.

The AMA also called for a doctors-led task force to promote prescription drug affordability though choice and competition in the pharmaceutical industry along with greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs, according to its statement.

"Physicians strive to provide the best possible care to their patients, but increases in drug prices can impact the ability of physicians to offer their patients the best drug treatments," Harris said.

"Patient care can be compromised and delayed when prescription drugs are unaffordable and subject to coverage limitations by the patient's health plan. In a worst-case scenario, patients forego necessary treatments when drugs are too expensive," she continued.

It's not clear yet exactly how the AMA would go about banning the ads, as courts have determined that they are a form of commercial speech protected by the Constitution, according to Reuters.  

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The AMA pushed for a ban on drug ads this week, claiming that direct-to-consumer marketing could be driving patients to demand expensive treatments over other, more cost-effective options.
ama, drug, ads, direct, consumer, expensive, prescriptions
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2015-44-19
Thursday, 19 Nov 2015 08:44 AM
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