Physicians at the Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) recently voted in favor of a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices. According to an official AMA press release, money spent on drug advertising has increased by 30 percent in the last two years to $4.5 billion. Professionals expressed concerns that this sort of promotion, which is allowed only in the United States and New Zealand, inflates demand for newer, more expensive drugs, even when older, less costly, and potentially safer alternatives would be better for patients.
The new AMA policy calls for a team of physician advocates to “promote prescription drug affordability by demanding choice and competition in the pharmaceutical industry, and greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs.” In some cases, patients may forego necessary treatments because medications are too expensive. The AMA will encourage federal health regulators to curb anticompetitive behavior by big pharmaceutical companies and prevent them from pushing manufacturers of generic, more affordable drugs out of the marketplace.
Reducing or prohibiting direct-to-consumer advertising could also reduce off-label drug use when the use benefits the pharmaceutical company but not necessarily the patient. Plaintiffs in various product liability litigations, such as testosterone therapy lawsuits and Zofran birth defect lawsuits, claim that manufacturers promoted their drugs for uses unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and overstated benefits while failing to disclose side-effects. Doing away with promotion to consumer might allow patients to make more informed decisions with their doctor about what drugs to take.
Always speak with your doctor about any health risks your medications may pose. If you or someone close to you was injured after taking a prescription drug for an off-label treatment, contact the pharmaceutical attorneys at Lopez McHugh for a free case evaluation.