The American Medical Association on Tuesday 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. Delegates in Atlanta voted to adopt that as official policy as part of an AMA effort to make prescription drugs more affordable. It means AMA will lobby for a ban. "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 a board member. "Patient care can be compromised and delayed when prescription drugs are unaffordable and subject to coverage limitations by the patients' health plan."
An AMA news release notes ad dollars spent by drugmakers have risen to $4.5 billion in the last two years, a 30% increase. Other data show prices on prescription drugs have climbed nearly 5% this year. The pharmaceutical industry opposes the AMA's stance. Direct-to-consumer ads aim to provide "scientifically accurate information to patients so that they are better informed about their health care and treatment options," says a rep for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The ads also encourage patients to visit their doctors' offices "for important doctor-patient conversations about health that might otherwise not take place," she says. The AMA will evaluate the new policy in the coming weeks to determine how to proceed with seeking a ban. (Read more pharmaceutical industry stories.)