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article imageIs it time to ban prescription drug adverts?

By Tim Sandle     Nov 25, 2015 in Health
New York - A call has been made to prevent prescription-only drugs from being advertised because less expensive generic drugs may be crowded out of the marketplace.
Advertisements for drugs that can be purchased in drugstores or over the counter need to meet certain criteria to avoid any unsupported claims. This happens from time-to-time as the "celebrity" Kim Kardashian found out to her cost, falling foul of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over a morning-sickness pill that she lent her name and image to.
Prescription-only drugs can also be advertised in the U.S. In Europe restrictions are in place (in fact only U.S. and New Zealand permit the advertising of prescription only medicines.)
There are two schools of thought with the issue. One argument is that advertising boosts consumer choice. If patients know that medication x exists for condition y, they can go and see a doctor or a pharmacist and ask for it to be prescribed. The counterargument is that this would interfere with professional judgement on behalf of a medical practitioner and that the doctor should decide on the most appropriate medication.
A third discussion point, raised by the American Medical Association, is that big drugs companies have huge advertising budgets and they can advertise a branded product extensively. This becomes logged in the mind of the patient and this becomes the medication either asked for by the patient or taken up by the doctor. This, the American Medical Association argues, puts generic drugs at a disadvantage and has the net effect of pushing up the cost of medicines onto the U.S. insurance system and hence the U.S. public.
In support of the American Medical Association concerns are new figures about the extent of pharmaceutical company marketing spending. This has risen by 30 percent over the past two years and stands at a whopping $4.5 billion.
Talking with Pharmaceutical Processing magazine, American Medical Association Board Chairwoman-elect Patrice Harris stated: “In a worst-case scenario, patients forego necessary treatments when drugs are too expensive.”
The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has reacted against the suggestion that advertising should be banned. Tina Stow of the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has said the most important thing is providing information for patients to make informed choices.
More about Prescription drugs, prescription medicines, Advertising, Medicine, Health
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