I have never believed that drug manufacturers should be allowed to advertise prescription drugs on television or in any other manner. The debate about whether pharmaceutical companies should “promote” their drugs to the general public has been heating up in recent months. A consumer watchdog group argues that direct-to-consumer advertising should be curtailed because it drives up the cost of medications and can mislead the public.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies say that ads targeting the general public give patients information and spur conversations with their health care providers. They claim this can actually lower health care costs because people are driven to seek treatment for their conditions. That really doesn’t make sense, but at least it’s an argument.
In February, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the “Responsibility in Drug Advertising Act.” The bill proposes a three-year moratorium on direct-to-consumer advertising of newly approved drugs. Drug companies could receive a waiver if the medication in question is considered a breakthrough treatment with a positive impact to public health.
Also, in March, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced legislation to end the tax break for drug makers who participate in direct-to-consumer advertising, saying this action would encourage drug companies to focus on developing new drugs instead of “marketing schemes” to drive up profits.
Drug companies spent about $3.6 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising during the first half of 2015 – a 12.5 percent increase compared to the same period in 2014. Frankly, I can see no justification for drug companies being allowed to advertise drugs that have to be prescribed by a medical doctor. In my opinion, Congress or the FDA should ban direct-to-consumer advertising by drug companies. What do you think?
Sources: Bloomberg BNA, RightingInjustice.com
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