AMA seeks ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, medical devices

Physicians at the Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association today adopted a new policy aimed at driving solutions to make prescription drugs more affordable. At the same time, many physicians voiced concerns over a growing proliferation of ads driving demand for expensive treatments despite the clinical effectiveness of less costly alternatives.

The U.S. and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs. Advertising dollars spent by drug makers have risen by 30 percent in the last two years alone to $4.5 billion, according to market research firm Kantar Media.

"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," said AMA Board Chair-elect Patrice A. Harris, MD. "Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate."

The AMA's new policy calls for convening a physician task force and creating an advocacy campaign to promote prescription drug affordability by demanding choice and competition in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs.

The policy also addresses the deepening concern that anticompetitive behavior in a consolidated pharmaceutical marketplace has the potential to increase drug prices. The AMA urges federal regulators to limit anticompetitive behavior by pharmaceutical companies that try to stifle generic manufacturers through manipulation of patent protections and abuse of regulatory exclusivity incentives. Finally, the AMA will monitor pharmaceutical company mergers and acquisitions, as well as the impact of such actions on drug prices.   

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