The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has joined the American Medical Association (AMA) in calling for a ban on DTC advertising. Announced during an annual meeting of the ASHP House of Delegates during their Summer Meetings and Exhibition last week, the national pharmacist group approved a new policy calling on Congress to ban all DTC advertising. This action demonstrates a move away from their previous policy – which was first adopted in 1997 and repeatedly refined over the years – that opposed DTC ads unless they met certain criteria.
The organization cited a 2002 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which stated that “pharmaceutical companies have increased spending on DTC advertising more rapidly than they have increased spending on research and development … DTC advertising appears to increase drug spending and utilization.” ASHP also opined that despite FDA regulation being “generally effective” over DTC, their “oversight has not prevented the dissemination of misleading advertising by some pharmaceutical companies.” ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP, stated via the news release, “ASHP believes that medication education provided by pharmacists and other providers as part of a provider-patient relationship is a much more effective way to make patients aware of available therapies, rather than relying on direct-to-consumer advertising.”
While this is just the latest news to put DTC in the crosshairs once again, instituting a ban would ultimately harm knowledge sharing and patient empowerment. DTC not only creates awareness, it also helps educate consumers with accurate information, leading to better doctor discussions, decision-making, and, ultimately, patient outcomes.