Should Advertising for Prescription Drugs be Banned?
The American Medical Association is pushing for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices. The AMA's reasoning is that the gazillions of dollars spent on drug ads are driving up health care costs. An AMA news release stated:
“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. Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate. Physicians strive to provide the best possible care to their patients, but increases in drug prices can impact the ability of physicians to offer their patients the best drug treatments.”
Can't argue with that. But is this statement by the AMA actually based on their heartfelt concern for their patients' health? Or is it just a turf war between two 800-pound gorillas?
I remember when lawyers, as well as pharmaceutical companies, weren't allowed to advertise. (And tobacco companies WERE.) For that matter, there was a time when TV commercials could not slam a competitor's product by name. They could beat around the bush with “compared to other products...,” etc. But until sometime in the late 1970s (if I'm not mistaken), you'd never hear “Excedrin is better than Anacin” or “McDonald's sucks! Go to Burger King instead!”
What say you? Should drug companies be prohibited from advertising prescription drugs and medical devices? And if so, what other industries (if any) should be banned from advertising their products?