FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 27, 2005
CONTACT: Commercial Alert
Gary Ruskin (503) 235-8012
200+ Medical School Professors Call for End to DTC Prescription Drug Ads
WASHINGTON - In a strong show of opposition to advertising for prescription
drugs, 211 professors from U.S. medical schools endorsed a statement that
“direct-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs should be prohibited.”
The statement’s endorsers include
prominent medical school professors from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of
Pennsylvania, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Duke, University of California, San
Francisco and other top medical schools, along with two former editors-in-chief
of the New England Journal of Medicine. Commercial Alert wrote and
organized the statement, and released it today.
Next week, Commercial
Alert will present the statement to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in
testimony at the FDA’s hearings on direct-to-consumer drug advertising.
The statement follows.
Statement on Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of
Direct-to-consumer marketing of
prescription drugs should be prohibited.
In 2004, pharmaceutical
companies spent more than $4 billion in an onslaught of advertising to promote
prescription drugs. This advertising does not promote public health.
It increases the cost of drugs and the number of unnecessary prescriptions,
which is expensive to taxpayers, and can be harmful or deadly to
For more than half a century, certain drugs have been available
to patients only with a prescription, because all drugs, including those that
can heal, can also cause harm. Doctors, nurses and other health
professionals have the necessary training and experience to help them decide
whether drugs are indicated in particular cases. This is why they make the
prescription decision, not patients.
Prescription drug advertising
pressures health professionals to prescribe particular medications, and often
the ones that may be less effective and more expensive and dangerous. This
intrudes in the relationship between medical professionals and patients, and
disrupts the therapeutic process. It takes up valuable time to explain to
patients why they may have been misled by the drug advertisements they have
Prescription drug advertising is not educational. It is
inherently misleading because it features emotive imagery and omits crucial
information about drugs and their proper use, as well as about side effects and
contraindications that can be found on the full FDA-approved label. Drug
companies have an inherent and irredeemable financial conflict-of-interest which
drives them to exaggerate the positive and minimize the negative qualities of
their own products.
At a minimum, direct-to-consumer prescription
drug advertising should not exist unless accompanied by the full FDA-approved
label. Nor should drug ads be allowed to display imagery that is primarily
emotive and not educational. Drug ads on TV and radio should be prohibited
because they cannot meet this standard for truthfulness.