On November 17, 2015, the American Medical Association voted to support a ban on drug and medical device company advertising on TV. The AMA sees a negative impact from these ads and also says these ads lead to an increase in drug and device prices. Moreover, they say these ads lead individuals to ask for drugs which they don’t need, are more expensive than other treatment options, and can be harmful to them.
In the last two years, there has been a 30 percent increase in the amount that drugs and device companies are spending on direct-to-consumer advertising, now at $4.5 billion annually. The AMA is particularly concerned with the cost of drugs, which rose almost five percent last year. They are often unaffordable to patients, even those with insurance, keeping them from getting needed care.
Drug and device companies could only conduct extremely limited direct-to-consumer advertising until 1997 when the FDA loosened restrictions. For almost 20 years they have been advertising heavily to consumers, Yet, most people do not have the scientific or technical knowledge to understand whether a particular drug or device is right for them based on an ad.
That notwithstanding, the ads do lead nearly three in ten people to talk to their doctor about a drug. And, two out of three of these people ask their doctors for the prescription.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that about half the population thinks the drug company advertising is generally good. But, almost 90 percent of the public, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, supports FDA review of the ads for accuracy and clarity before they are aired.
Given that prescription drug advertising drives up drug costs, the risk of harmful side effects from many drugs, along with FDA drug and device approvals that are sometimes not based on clinical evidence of safety and efficacy, do you think drug and device companies should be allowed to market directly to consumers? Please post your comment.