Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Medicine Advertising Businesses The Almighty Buck

AMA Calls For Ban On Direct-To-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs ( 305 writes: The Associated Press reports that the American Medical Association has called for a ban on direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs and implantable medical devices, saying they contribute to rising costs and patients' demands for inappropriate treatment. According to data cited in an AMA news release, ad dollars spent by drugmakers have risen to $4.5 billion in the last two years, a 30 percent increase. Physicians cited concerns that a growing proliferation of ads is driving demand for expensive treatments despite the clinical effectiveness of less costly alternatives. "Today's vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices," said the AMA's Patrice A. Harris. "Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate."

The AMA also calls for convening a physician task force and launching an advocacy campaign to promote prescription drug affordability by demanding choice and competition in the pharmaceutical industry, and greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs. Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report saying that a high cost of prescription drugs remains the public's top health care priority. In the past few years, prices on generic and brand-name prescription drugs have steadily risen and experienced a 4.7 percent spike in 2015, according to the Altarum Institute Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AMA Calls For Ban On Direct-To-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs

Comments Filter:
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @09:29AM (#50954295) Journal
    But I, for one, would much rather see the personal injury attorney solicitations go the way of the cigarette advertisement.
    • That's not actually that far fetched. In most countries it's already illegal for advocates to advertise (I'm not sure if the US legal system differentiates between attorney's and advocates), and, in fact, advocates are not even allowed to take walk-in clients, they can only accept a client after that client is referred to them by an attorney.
      In most sensible countries there are also very strict rules about how attorney's are allowed to advertise, generally print adds and the yellow-pages and a website maybe

      • Mass-market attorney advertisements in the US are a relatively recent phenomenon. Here's a quick history: []

    • How else will you learn that the miracle drug you saw advertised a week ago is causing death and injury worthy of substantial compensation?

      Week one: "Hoomirratt has made a difference in my lung function!"
      Week two: "This is an Important Announcement for people who took Hoomirratt, or their grieving loved ones."
      Two shots if both ads are running at the same time.

  • stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AntEater ( 16627 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @09:41AM (#50954345) Homepage

    "ask your doctor is "X" is right for you"

    If my doctor doesn't already know whether X is right for me, then I need to get a new doctor. I've always thought that this was incredibly irresponsible to be promoting the idea that the average slob off the street should suggest treatments when you need about 10 years of post-secondary education just to be able to deliver such treatment.

    "end users, ask your sysadmin if systemd is right for you."

    • But you know the scary thing is a lot of doctors only find out about new medicines when the sales guy shows up, gives him the glossies and the samples, and whatever incentive I suspect they give him.

      Which means the doctor may not know any more about it than you do.

      Honestly, these days it's the rep from the pharma companies suggesting treatments to doctors who know little or nothing about the drug beyond the claims by the company.

      I'm in favor of cutting out the direct marketing of drugs like this. Let's get

      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        There is a big difference between marketing to doctors and marketing directly to the consumer.
      • If your doctor is even close to competent they will go look at the literature on any drug they prescribe. Yes, the sales reps can create bias, but they don't magically make a doctor incompetent.

        • Yes, the sales reps can create bias, but they don't magically make a doctor incompetent.

          Of course not. That would be silly. Instead, they use psychology, specifically the human brain's tendency to forget where it got a nugget of information from and bias against counter-evidence.

          Even competent people are still just humans, in the end.

      • Re:stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RKThoadan ( 89437 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @10:19AM (#50954551)

        A very strong case can be made for Doctors not even prescribing specific drugs. Even the best docs don't really know the drugs that well, but pharmacists do. Doctors should do the diagnosing of the issue(s) and if they wish to use a pharmaceutical treatment send the information to the pharmacist and let them consult with the patient and choose the appropriate drug(s) and dosage. This is especially important when dealing with multiple medications from multiple specialists. Pharmacists are by far the most under-appreciated medical professionals.

        • Not necessarily in every case. A lot of conditions can be treated by a lot of drugs in the same families, such as NSAIDs and antibiotics. A pharmacist probably couldnt tell you which NSAID is best. Usually a doctor tries the cheapest one first (to help the patient since most have to foot at least part of the bill), then switch them up if the desired effect doesn't happen.

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I don't even know if Doctors know all that much about the drugs they prescribe or keep up with new information.

          I had a serious accident that involved amputating half my left ring finger and fusion of the distal joint on my left middle finger. The hand surgeon prescribed Percocet for pain management -- oxycodone with acetaminophen.

          I had a review with the surgeon's physician assistant about two weeks after surgery and she renewed my pain medication, prescribing straight oxycodone (same strength as the Percoc

          • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

            Tylenol is really very easy to OD on. It's an over the counter medicine that people treat lightly. It's in a number of different products. You can easily get too much of it if you aren't really careful. The gap between "strong dose" and "overdose" is relatively small.

            In some places, most of the ODs are from Tylenol rather than some street drug like heroin.

            I would not necessarily assume that the GP was ignorant. The surgeon might also have a different perspective on things based on his practice. Similarly, a

            • by swb ( 14022 )

              I would not necessarily assume that the GP was ignorant.

              The physician's assistant *works for* the surgeon. It's a 1:1 relationship.

              The basic problem is that there isn't prescribing alignment between the two professionals working with each other in a direct reporting relationship in the same practice.

              Perhaps the PA is wrong for deviating from the prescribing practice of the surgeon she works for, although you can make a strong argument that the PA was actually employing a better prescribing practice based on newer and more sound understandings of acetaminophen t

    • Re:stupid (Score:4, Informative)

      by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @09:57AM (#50954435) Homepage Journal
      You're doctor probably does know what is right for you, so when you ask a reasonable doctor will say she is familiar with the drug, but that another drug will fewer side effects or less chance of addiction might be better to try first. At which point a person who wants the drug will find another doctor, which is what all this is about. The promotion of the drug culture. While the drug dealers and users of the 80's and 90's were on the street being shot down by cops, the drug dealers now are sitting in nice offices and the users are being treated like victims. Local agencies are paying up to $500 to treat people who voluntarily overdose on heroin while there are not enough services to help actual victims.
    • Re:stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PsychoSlashDot ( 207849 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @10:15AM (#50954533)

      If my doctor doesn't already know whether X is right for me, then I need to get a new doctor.

      Agreed. On top of that what bothers me is the sales hook:

      "Do you have symptoms that include being nervous when in complicated social situations?"

      "Does your skin sometimes itch?"

      "Do you experience shortness of breath after running marathons?"

      They frequently describe circumstances that are so vague they apply to pretty much every self-diagnosing hypocondriac on the planet. Might as well ask "are you a fool with money you need to be parted from?" Up here in Canada, direct-to-proto-patient marketing is illegal. Strangely we're not all dying because we haven't heard of some med. Also, our meds are typically cheaper than in the US.

    • In the world in which doctors are constantly evaluating all humans for all conditions, I agree with you. But "the average slob" does not go to see the doctor unless he is dying, and when he is dying, his bladder/hairloss/libido issues may not come up.

      "end users, ask your sysadmin if systemd is right for you."

      "End users, there is this thing called VPN which lets you do your work offsite. Ask your sysadmin if you want privileges enabled on your account."

  • just tell their patients "no." If the patient decides to try to shop around for a different doctor, let them.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Sure, when you shop around for a doctor you then get shoved into your state's Doctor shopping database like you are an addict.

      • Well, if you are shopping around because a doctor won't prescribe a medication you saw on TV, then you have made your own bed.
  • google it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @09:41AM (#50954355) Homepage
    We've taken to googling the price of every drug we see. How many folks have diabetes or foot fungus, a lot....those drugs are about 20k/yr. The really narrowcast cancer drugs (what percentage of your audience has small cell lung cancer ?) are about 200k per year. I can see the desperate haranging a doc to prescribe this, even if the doc knows differently. If it isn't OTC, then it should not be advertised to the mass market. All this does is drive up prices. Oh, "if you can't afford your medication, XXXX MAY be able to help" burns me on so many levels, I hope the CEO of the company's family all need that drug, and that for them it is all "side effects". Everything wrong with the US "health" care system is shown by advertising these drugs direct to consumer.
  • NOTHING would make me happier.. I'm wearing out the mute button on my tv clicker, with all of these mindless ads for drugs with clever names, a speed-read of
    a list of side-effects that would scare any normal person to death (hint: most have the possibilty of death somewhere in the list), and a ending with "Ask YOUR doctor if XXXX is RIGHT for YOU!!!" ......

  • As long as they don't lie, they have a right to speech. Already they cram in warnings and side effects.

  • In order for direct advertisements to work, doctors must be listening to their patients about treatment instead of the other way around. That sounds like a dysfunctional system to me.
    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      What if the doctor is unaware of the patient recommended drug? Won't the patient recommendation cause the doctor to research the possibility of using it?

      • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )
        ... then your doctor is working outside his specialty. Go to the proper specialist, he probably knows what the entire pallet of treatment options available to you.
  • When the doctors are the gatekeepers of information about prescription drugs, that brings back the good old days of free dinners, all-expense-paid conferences, gifts, and hot pharmaceutical sales reps pretending to think that you're clever.

  • I remember when all that prescription drug advertising began and I knew it was a bad idea in 1997 and it still is today. Way too many patients walk into a doctors office demanding and getting a drug they've heard about regardless if it is the best option.
  • Direct-to-doctor marketing? Doctors shouldn't have 'reward' programs for recommending certain brands over others. Then again, the profit motive itself pretty much makes a mockery of the practice of medicine in general. I just don't think the promotion of "awareness" of profitable drugs that this system provides doctors is worth the corruption and fleecing involved.

    Ryan Fenton

  • I figured, with all those side effects, nobody would even go near those drugs. I mean, really, are you willing to try that new drug on your toenail fungus with a risk of death attached? What that means is that people during the drug study actually died, a confirmed side effect.

    In any case I think we need to stop with all these sex pills and nonsense drugs and put that money in to treating or curing life threatening illnesses. Aspirin and Penicillin were revolutionary and more beneficial than any of their ve

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @10:01AM (#50954455)

    WHAT?? An organization representing physicians thinks that only physicians should get to decide what drugs and devices most people hear about???? THE HELL YOU SAY!

  • There are a series of ubiquitous problems in the medication scene, thus prescription or not, they're always be controversial: having ads for ANY drug directly targeting the consumer is a bad idea and it raises (some) costs and induces in (some) trivial treatments - that's health care for you in a nutshell, nothing just works, and that's why we have doctors to steer decision, but not to take it for us. For sure one thinks people should ask doctors and pharmacists what's good for what they have, not a TV comm

  • Every time you see a drug ad on TV, take a drink. Every time you see a new one, drink the entire drink.

  • What? Why would you ever want to do away with those commercials, when they're so perfectly ripe for comic spoofing []?

  • The media will never go for it. Just like campaign finance reform, there's no upside for the infotainment complex. Since they're the ones controlling the discussion (and making all the money) there's 0% chance things will change.

    It is cute how the AMA thinks they have some say in the matter though.

  • If drug advertising is banned, then MSNBC will disappear from TV land.
    And, if drug advertising is banned how will I know what new disease I have this week?

  • I hope they don't outlaw the Cialis commercials because the milfs they use are hot. Seriously, check it out. They're all hot and frisky.

    It's less entertaining when they get to the litany of side effects, but when they get to "If you experience an erection lasting more than 4 hours...", I like to shout at the TV, "As if!".

  • Then we don't have to waste our time fast-forwarding listening to all the sales pitching useless crap that we don't want nor need.

    If something is good enough to be "advertised" by word of mouth, it probably isn't worth it.

  • One of the side-affects of this will be that we will see more and more TV stations fail. Pharama chew up a lot of ad time, and consequently help pay for a tonne of the OTA TV that we all watch. If all that disappeared, I see a huge hole in the budget for a lot of broadcasters...

  • Now if this could really happen. Sick do death of the ED drugs. Not too mention it seems a lot of the drugs will kill you first before fixing the problem.
  • They should start with the first amendment to the US constitution. Any statute that bans advertising is unconstitutional on its face.


Base 8 is just like base 10, if you are missing two fingers. -- Tom Lehrer