Friday, November 20, 2015

AMA “Ban Prescription Drug Ads”

Direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and medical devices drives up health care costs and should be banned, the American Medical association said Tuesday.

Currently, ads for drugs to treat diabetes, depression, impotence and more deluge TV viewers. This drives demand for expensive treatments, the nation’s most influential doctor group said when it adopted the new policy.

“Today’s vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices,” Dr. Patrice Harris, the association board chair-elect, said in an AMA news release.

“Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate,” she added.

Hoping to make prescription drugs and medical devices more affordable, the new policy also calls for a physician task force to study the issue, a campaign to demand choice and competition in the drug industry, and greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs.

The United States and New Zealand are the only countries that permit direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs, according to the AMA.

This type of advertising is big business. Ad spending by drug makers increased 30% from 2012 to 2014, reaching $4.5 billion, according to market research firm Kantar Media.

Meanwhile, prices of generic and brand-name prescription drugs have risen steadily in recent years, including a 4.7% increase in 2015.

The high cost of prescription drugs is the top health care priority for Americans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released las month.

Pharmaceutical companies that try to limit availability of inexpensive generic drugs are a particular concern, the association said. The group will support a government crackdown on companies that manipulate patent protections.

My Take:
I don’t often agree with the AMA but this is a bold move that I hope signals real change within the “most influential doctor group”. Although the AMA membership represents less than 25% of practicing physicians, they have shaped health care in the U.S. to the bloated, ineffective, overpriced institution that it is today. This would appear to be a step in the right direction.

The fact that the high cost of prescription drugs in the top health care priority for Americans is disconcerting. For retirees, the cost often exceeds their income and they are forced to choose between medication and food.

Eliminating unnecessary and over prescribed drugs would reduce the cost dramatically as the average American takes five prescription drugs daily. A recent study indicated that 25% of the diagnosed dementia in this county is just overmedication of our elderly population. Stop the drugs and the dementia resolves.

The Bottom Line:
Let’s follow the rest of the world and ban the drug ads. I sure won’t miss them.

Source: November 17, 2015 National Institutes of Health

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