AMA Calls for Ban on DTC Drug Ads

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The AMA's move is designed to address the growing problem of prescription drug affordability.
The AMA's move is designed to address the growing problem of prescription drug affordability.

HealthDay News — Direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals and medical devices drives up health care costs and should be banned, the American Medical Association said Tuesday.

Currently, ads for drugs to treat diabetes, depression, impotence and more deluge TV viewers. This drives demand for expensive treatments, the nation's most influential doctor group said when it adopted the new policy.

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"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," Dr. Patrice Harris, the association board chair-elect, said in an AMA news release.

"Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate," she added.

Hoping to make prescription drugs and medical devices more affordable, the new policy also calls for a physicilan task force to study the issue, a campaign to demand choice and competition in the drug industry, and greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs.

The United States and New Zealand are the only countries that permit direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs, according to the AMA.

This type of advertising is big business. Ad spending by drug makers increased 30% from 2012 to 2014, reaching $4.5 billion, according to market research firm Kantar Media.

Meanwhile, prices of generic and brand-name prescription drugs have risen steadily in recent years, including a 4.7% increase in 2015, reported by the Altarum Institute Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

The high cost of prescription drugs is the top health care priority for Americans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released last month.

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