Physician group calls for ban on prescription drug advertising

Physicians with the American Medical Association called for a ban Tuesday on the billions of advertising dollars spent to promote prescription drugs and medical devices.

Physicians cited concerns that increased advertising is driving demand for expensive treatments despite the clinical effectiveness of less costly alternatives, according to an AMA statement.

The physicians voted at the AMA's interim meeting in Atlanta to convene a physician task force and launch an advocacy campaign to promote prescription drug affordability by demanding choice and competition in the pharmaceutical industry, and greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs.

"Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate," said Dr. Patrice A. Harris, AMA board chair-elect

The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, according to the AMA. Advertising dollars spent by drug makers have increased by 30 percent in the last two years to $4.5 billion, according to the market research firm Kantar Media.

AMA officials said they will work to encourage federal regulators to limit pharmaceutical companies attempting to reduce competition from generic manufacturers by manipulating patent protections and abusing regulatory exclusivity incentives.

The AMA will also monitor pharmaceutical company mergers and acquisitions, as well as the impact of such actions on drug prices.

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