Prescription medication has its own adverts in the US. This is a practice that hasn’t been seen in many countries and it’s a practice that could be coming to an end soon.
When medication is treated like a commercial good the forces of demand and supply often step in. it’s hard not to think about TV without having to think about one of these ads. We have all seen them, and how many of us can say that we haven’t gone to our doctors and asked for a specific medication because of an ad?
Why We Need To Advertise Drugs
Generally when someone sees an advert for something they go and buy it if they like it. But medication is different, unless your doctor is signing off on the new drug you thought had an interesting advert, you won’t be getting it.
Now the American Medical Association (AMA) is taking action and actually trying to put things into perspective, in a way that makes sense.
The AMA’s interim meeting decided to vote to install a ban on direct-to-consumer advertisements for any form of prescription medication. Basically, if you saw it on TV but had to get your doctor’s permission before buying it, then you will not be seeing it on TV anymore.
Drug Prices: Doctors Say Consumers Demand Highly Advertised Drugs, Driving Up Prices
Doctors at the meeting said that patients that are constantly watching these ads end up pressuring their healthcare provider into prescribing them. Not only does this override the doctor’s judgment in a way, it also leads to a hike in prices as demand increases.
“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,” said AMA Board Chair-elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”
The AMA is based by data from Kantat Media, which is a market research firm that highlighted that drug companies have increased their expenditure on ads by over 30%, i.e. $4.5 billion.
Solution For Drug Prices Boost: Ads To Get A Makeover?
Consumer groups think that the new AMA policy is a great idea. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) does not entirely agree though. The growth in drug adverts is hard to dismiss even for the NIH, however, research from the organization asserts that the adverts are both good and bad.
The AMA may be onto something though. The US is one of two countries in the entire world that has such ads for medication. The stance that has been taken by physicians is an important one. If patients opt for more expensive medication they could delay their own healthcare because it may not be affordable or be covered under their health plan. In any case, it would be best if medication was not seen as a consumer good that can bring in big money.