Calling for a Ban on Prescription Drug Advertising

dtc adsTelevision and publication advertisements provoke several questions to the pharmacist from patients.  I have fielded several questions over the years.  “What is your thought on that new drug for my condition?”  “My doctor gave me this prescription for that new drug I saw on TV.  I’m not sure I want to take it; it sounds like it could cause more harm than good.”  “I’m angry at my doctor; he won’t prescribe that new drug for me that I saw on TV.  He says it’s not in my best interest, but I want it!”  And then I hear, “Do all drugs have bad side effects like they say on television?”

I am sure that physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals face similar questions.

A 2002 report from the Government Accountability Office cited, “pharmaceutical companies have increased spending on direct-to-consumer advertising more rapidly than they have increased spending on research and development” while “direct-to-consumer advertising appears to increase drug spending and utilization.”

I have always been one to believe that a health care provider should be the one educated on new medications.  Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists can collaborate amongst each other to decide on appropriate drug therapy for a patient.  Pharmaceutical companies should continue to put forth their efforts in educating health care providers of their new pharmaceuticals.

ASHP CEO Paul Abramowitz says, “For decades, pharmacists practicing in hospitals and clinics have been the leaders in recommending and initiating evidence-based medication therapies in partnership with physicians and other prescribersꟷand in helping patients achieve optimal and cost-effective medication therapy outcomes.  ASHP believes that medication education provided by pharmacists and other providers as part of a provider-patient relationship is a much more effective way to make patients aware of available therapies, rather than relying on direct-to-consumer advertising.”

FDA violations

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) House of Delegates approved a policy calling on Congress to ban all direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medication-containing devices during ASHP’s Summer Meetings held in Baltimore.