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Friday, November 20, 2015

AMA Calls for Ban on Prescription Drug Ads

It would seem next to impossible to sit down for an hour to watch television without seeing an advertisement for a prescription drug. You know: Those ads that tell you about a new miracle drug that lists over ten serious side effects - many of which sound worse than the problem the drug is meant to treat? Many of the drugs advertised can also be habit forming.

This week, the American Medical Association (AMA) called for a ban on direct-to-consumer ads for prescription medications and implantable medical devices, CBS News reports. Advocates of the ban say that such ads contribute to increasing prescription costs, and increase patient demand for inappropriate treatments.

“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,” AMA Board Member Dr. Patrice Harris said in a news release. “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.” 

Naturally, the pharmaceutical industry is against the ban. Trish Stow of the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says that direct-to-consumer ads are meant to give "scientifically accurate information to patients so that they are better informed about their health care and treatment options."

The price of prescription drugs jumped almost 5 percent this year, according to the article. The AMA reports that pharmaceutical companies spent $4.5 billion on direct-to-consumer advertisements (a 30 percent increase) in the last two years.

“Patient care can be compromised and delayed when prescription drugs are unaffordable and subject to coverage limitations by the patients’ health plan,” Harris said. “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”

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