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AMA Says No More TV Drug Ads

Doctors expressed concern about the effects of direct-to-consumer drug advertising on the prices of medication and the cost of health care.

If you are fed up with television commercials for prescription drugs to treat everything from erectile dysfunction to toenail fungus to lung cancer, you are not alone. There’s a chance your doctor agrees with you about TV drug ads.

AMA Changes its Mind on Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising:

The American Medical Association has just called for an end to direct-to-consumer drug advertising in an about-face from its previous position. The doctors believe that such magazine and TV drug ads get patients to request or even demand more expensive treatments, even when the medication may not be appropriate.

US Is Nearly Alone in the World to Allow Drug Ads Aimed at Consumers:

Such TV drug ads targeting consumers are permitted in only two countries in the world, the mighty US and tiny New Zealand. Prices of both brand-name and generic drugs have risen steadily over recent years, and the doctors suspect that advertising has contributed to those costs.

What Do TV Drug Ads Cost?

The pharmaceutical industry spent $4.5 billion on magazine and TV drug ads in 2014. That is 21 percent more than it had spent the previous year, which seems to indicate that this marketing effort is paying off.

PhRMA responded to the AMA vote by saying that the goal of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising is to inform patients about treatment options.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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