Prescription drug ads need more oversight to protect patients

Prescription drug ads need more oversight to protect patients

AMA President-elect testifies to Congress on direct-to-consumer advertising
For immediate release
May 8, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the American Medical Association (AMA) called for better government oversight of prescription drug advertisements directed at consumers to protect patients from misleading information. AMA President-elect Nancy Nielsen, MD, shared the AMA's concerns with some direct-to-consumer advertisements (DTCA) in testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

"Direct-to-consumer ads often portray drugs through rose-colored glasses by including more information about a drug's benefits than risks," said Dr. Nielsen. "Imbalances in these ads can diminish patient understanding of certain drug risks, and increase the need for an ongoing dialogue between patients and physicians about the benefits and risks of prescription drugs."

At the hearing, the AMA discussed the need for FDA regulation over DTCA and shared guidelines for DTCA that address advertising content, disclosures, and audiences targeted.

"The AMA guidelines for DTCA can help ensure that patients receive information about prescription drugs that is accurate, educational, well-balanced and encourages patient-physician communication," said Dr. Nielsen. "We look forward to working with Congress to achieve our shared goal - that direct-to-consumer advertisements focus on truly helping patients rather than maximizing pharmaceutical companies' bottom line."