4A's announces plans to defend DTC

Photo credit: King-of-Herrings/Creative Commons

The American Association of Advertising Agencies, an advertising trade group, defended direct-to-consumer advertising in an op-ed on Monday.

The group said that fighting any potential ban on DTC ads will be a “top agenda item” going into the 2016 US presidential race.

Dick O'Brien, the 4A's EVP and director of government relations, said that the trade group will begin lobbying against any proposed DTC ban, primarily due to the Clinton campaign's stance on the issue. “We feel it's our obligation [to defend DTC],” he said. “We will start working with Congress, mainly because you can't ban it or eliminate the tax deduction without a new law.”

DTC has come under fire in recent months as the US health system grapples with new ways to reduce costs. Drug costs, in particular, are being closely scrutinized.

The American Medical Association, the largest physician group in the US, in November voted to support a ban on DTC advertising. The group's board chair-elect, Patrice Harris, said at the time that DTC inflates demand for more and more expensive drugs.

As part of her campaign platform presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also proposed to rein in drug spending by eliminating drugmakers' ability to deduct DTC advertising costs.

Mollie Rosen, the 4A's EVP of agency relations and membership, wrote in an op-ed for Pharamexec.com that healthcare advertising is often seen as some of the “most meaningful” work done in the industry and those who do it are “some of the industry's most masterful storytellers.”

Drugmakers spent $4.5 billion on DTC advertising, excluding digital spending, in 2014, up from $3.8 billion in 2013, according to Nielsen data.