Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars a day to air drug ads on television -- $4.5 billion last year -- an investment which results in higher drug prices and keeps much-needed medication out of reach for many Americans.
The American Medical Association (AMA) recently called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, but Congress still needs to enact the ban. Please sign my petition urging Congress to do what’s best for American citizens and heed the AMA’s call to ban TV ads for prescription drugs.
The U.S. is one of only two countries (along with New Zealand) that allows TV drug ads. And now, our country’s biggest doctors’ group has determined that these ads do not serve the purpose of educating consumers on the benefits and harms of specific medications. Instead, they just put the names of the newest, flashiest, and most expensive prescription drugs into people’s heads and urge them to “talk to their doctor” about switching. Switching is very often unnecessary at best, and can even be harmful to patients’ health.
And it’s not just the AMA that is concerned about these ads -- a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Health Foundation found that 89% of respondents want the FDA to review prescription ads before they air.Currently, it’s against federal law for the FDA to do this, so it must rely solely on consumer complaints after the ads have run. This does not strike me as the most ethically sound policy, and certainly does not seem like it has the best interest of the patient in mind.
Educating patients about their medication options is best left to doctors and pharmacists, not marketers and ad companies. Please join me in urging Congress to enact a ban on all TV drug ads.