June 20, 2006
AMA calls for moratorium on DTC ads for new drugs
The American Medical Association will advocate a mandatory moratorium on consumer advertising for new drugs. At an AMA house of delegates meeting in Chicago, the group’s membership passed a resolution recommending that the FDA adopt a moratorium on ads for new drugs, though the organization did not specify a time-frame for the ad ban, instead suggesting that the FDA use its discretion based on the available scientific evidence for a drug's safety and efficacy. “A temporary moratorium on DTC advertising of prescribed drugs and medical devices will benefit both the patient and the physician,” said AMA president-elect Ronald Davis, M.D. The AMA’s recommendation largely parallels existing PhRMA guidelines on DTC, which call for companies to “spend an appropriate amount of time to educate health professionals about a new medicine or a new therapeutic indication before commencing the first DTC advertising campaign,” but leave the interim up to the manufacturer, asserting that flexibility is necessary to allow for the urgency with which a new drug may be needed. “AMA's vision of a DTC moratorium looks like government censorship, not patient empowerment, free speech or enlightened public policy,” said John Kamp, executive director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communications. “PhRMA's DTC Principles put the decision to advertise where it belongs, in the hands of the companies that know the most about their drugs and the information needs of doctors and patients.” The AMA also called for all drug ads to be pre-approved by the FDA and for equal space to be allotted to risks and benefits in advertising.