Advocates want Congress to ban DTC

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Advocacy groups led by Commercial Alert, National Women's Health Network, and Physicians for a National Health Program are seeking support for legislation to ban DTC ads.

The draft legislation, which has not yet attracted any sponsors, claims that DTC does not promote public health but instead increases both drug costs and unnecessary prescriptions.

The bill would prohibit all DTC ads, including reminder and help-seeking ads directing people to Web sites intended to promote the sale of particular drugs.

An exception would be created for print ads that present only the names and prices of prescription drugs or inform consumers that certain drugs are available at certain locations.

If those provisions were found to be unconstitutional, the bill's fallback position is that:
(1) DTC drug ads must include additional warnings appropriate to the drug, informing consumers the drug was approved based on testing that included fewer than typically 3,000 people and may be dangerous in ways that limited research has not revealed, and the FDA does not certify that the drug is more effective, safer, or cheaper than others in its class; (2) DTC drug ads are not tax deductible; and (3) Drug companies are subject to a 3% windfall profits tax that is dedicated to a fund controlled by the National Institutes of Health for conducting studies on comparative benefits of drugs.

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