Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising in the U.S. of prescription drugs and medical devices is in the spotlight,
with the American Medical Association (AMA) calling for a ban on it. The Chicago-based physicians group issued a statement last month that it has adopted a policy to block such advertising.
The AMA’s chief argument is that the “growing proliferation of ads is driving demand for expensive treatments despite the clinical effectiveness of less costly alternatives.” Patrice A. Harris, chair-elect of the AMA, added: “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.” The AMA noted that the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow DTC advertising of prescription drugs. It cited research by Kantar Media that tracked a 30% increase in ad spending by drug makers in the past two years, totaling $4.5 billion.
Much of the advertising for prescription drugs is actually directed at doctors, according to Wharton professor of health care management Amanda Starc. Only a tenth of the advertising budgets at pharmaceutical companies is spent on TV ads, she said. “The AMA is targeting a relatively small proportion of ads that potentially provide information to consumers or potentially steer consumers from one drug to another within a category,” she added.
To read the article by Knowledhe@Wharton, University of Pennsylvania