AMA votes to ban direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices

Physicians at an American Medical Association (AMA) meeting in Atlanta voted on Nov. 17 to support a ban of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications and medical devices.

Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in the U.S. spend $4.5 billion on advertising, an increase of 30 percent in the past two years, according to research firm Kantar Media.

The AMA said the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications.

“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 chair-elect Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, 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.”

The AMA plans on convening a physician task force and an advocacy campaign to focus on making prescription medications more affordable and seeking more transparency in prices and costs of drugs. The AMA also will monitor mergers and acquisitions among pharmaceutical companies and assess their effect on prices.

“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.”