Half of all Americans favor a ban on DTC advertising for new prescription drugs, according to a Harris Interactive survey sponsored by WSJ.com.
Asked if it was "a good idea to forbid direct-do-consumer advertising for new prescription drugs for some period of time" after approval, 51 percent of respondents to the online survey said yes and only 25 percent said no, with another 24 percent on the fence. Those numbers were virtually unchanged among people who take prescription drugs on a regular basis, but among adults 65 and older, a ban was slightly more popular, with 55 percent saying they favored a ban and only 19 percent opposing.
Asked what type of ban they favored, 35 percent favored a mandatory ban for all new drugs approved "for some limited period of time," while 16 said they preferred a voluntary ban "so that each pharmaceutical company could decide when to begin advertising to consumers." Only 23 percent would oppose any ban, and 25 percent were unsure.
Underlying the findings is a lack of trust among Americans regarding the FDA's ability to ensure complete and accurate risk-benefit information in DTC ads. Thirty-five percent said the agency does an excellent or good job, 61 percent a fair or poor job.
Last month as part of a new company code on DTC communications, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced a voluntary, 12-month moratorium on branded TV, radio and print ads for new drugs. The code also calls for simplified, easy-to-understand risk/benefit language in product communications. Excluded from the policy are more targeted forms of consumer communications such as disease awareness advertising and CRM.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has called for a two-year prohibition on DTC advertising for new drugs.