AMA Considers Asking FDA for DTC Advertising Ban
At the urging of many doctors who say that patients are being "misinformed" about prescription drugs, an American Medical Association committee is considering a proposal that would call on the FDA to ban direct-to-consumer advertising by drug makers, the AP/Nando Times reports. The proposal was introduced yesterday by the AMA's New Jersey delegation at the start of association's annual meeting in Chicago, and is "one of several resolutions at the meeting that seek to curb what many doctors think is interference from the pharmaceutical industry into the doctor-patient relationship." Dr. Angelo Argo said that direct-to-consumer ads "can undermine doctors' credibility, especially if a physician thinks an advertised drug isn't the best choice for a patient who demands it," adding that drug ads are "driven more by companies' financial concerns that by concerns for the patients' best interest." Another resolution would direct the AMA to lobby the FDA to require that drug ads inform patients that "their doctors may recommend other, more appropriate treatment options." The AMA committee will review the resolutions and decide whether to send them to the AMA's House of Delegates for a full vote.
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Despite many doctors' call for a ban on direct-to-consumer ads, FDA Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Shuren told the committee that the FDA "doesn't have the authority to implement a ban" since direct-to-consumer ads are allowed by law. In addition, several doctors said that a ban would violate drug makers' free speech protections, and others said that the ads encouraged some patients who might not otherwise seek treatment to do so. Current AMA policy states that direct-to-consumer ads are "acceptable as long as they contain a clear health message, refer patients to their doctors for more information and don't encourage self-diagnosis and self-treatment" (Tanner, AP/Nando Times, 6/18).