AMA Says to Ban Prescription Drug Ads

Physicians voiced concerns about the booming advertisements for pharmaceuticals as the catalyst for the high demand for expensive treatments at the Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA).

Physicians voiced concerns about the booming advertisements for pharmaceuticals as the catalyst for the high demand for expensive treatments at the Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA).

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

Only two countries in the world allow direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising — the United States and New Zealand.

Despite clinical efficacy of less costly alternatives, advertising dollars spent by drug makers have increased by 30% just in the last two years to $4.5 billion.

The AMA hopes to create a taskforce to launch an advocacy campaign promoting prescription drug affordability primarily by providing choice and competition in the pharmaceutical industry.

Additionally, the AMA hopes to encourage federal regulators to limit pharmaceutical companies’ anticompetitive behavior against generic drug companies, monitor mergers and acquisitions, and oversee patent reform.

According to Harris, “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. 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.”

The AMA understands greater transparency in all that’s involved in prescription drug prices (the research, development, manufacturing, marketing, and advertising costs) is key as it will aid patients, physicians, and other stakeholders better understand the drug manufacturers’ process for setting prices.