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DTC in Perspective: AMA Criticizes Lawyer Anti-Drug Ads

August 10, 2016 by Bob Ehrlich0

You know the ubiquitous ads soliciting clients who were “injured” by prescription drugs. Lawyers all over the country create a drumbeat of fear over prescription drug side effects. The American Medical Association(AMA) is now concerned that this fear mongering is causing patients to get off or refuse to start needed therapy. Last month the AMA called for warnings in these lawyer ads telling patients not to stop taking their meds without consulting their doctor.

The stats are amazing. About 360,000 lawyer ads were run in 2015 on drugs and devices. Many of these law firms are just bundlers who get leads from the ads and turn the names over to trial firms for a cut. The AMA has called for a ban on drug company DTC which seems odd if they are concerned about the scare tactics used by law firms. Drug ads give the positives and negatives while law firms only give negatives. One would think the AMA would want the positives out there if they fear the effects of fear based lawyer ads.

Bob Ehrlich
“FDA should conduct a study to determine affect lawyer ads have on consumer attitudes.”
-Bob Ehrlich

The most ads were run against Xarelto, with Pradaxa, Invokana, Risperdal and Androgel in the top 10. FDA should conduct a study to determine what affect lawyer ads have on consumer attitudes. While they do not regulate what lawyers say a study could help them determine how consumers react to these risk ads. That might help them determine how drug companies discuss risk.

There is no doubt some patients have legitimate claims against drug companies. Lawyers can play useful roles in protecting patients. These ads go beyond that role as they chase clients and create a climate of fear. That being said, these law firms make money doing this direct response advertising. The fact that 360,000 ads were run show they work. A Congress filled with lawyers is unlikely to hold any hearings take steps to stop these ads.

One would hope ethics would mitigate the egregious nature of these ads. Ethics are clearly not the main concern of those drumming up business by scaring patients off their meds.

Bob Ehrlich


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