Pharmacist Association Calls for Ban on Prescription Drug Advertising

Pharmacist Association Calls for Ban on Prescription Drug Advertising

At the annual meeting of the ASHP House of Delegates during ASHP’s 2016 Summer Meetings and Exhibition this week in Baltimore, ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) approved a policy calling on Congress to ban all direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs and medication-containing devices.

ASHP’s new policy states the following: “To advocate that Congress ban direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and medication-containing devices.”

A 2002 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the topic noted that “pharmaceutical companies have increased spending on DTC advertising more rapidly than they have increased spending on research and development” and that “DTC advertising appears to increase drug spending and utilization.” The report also stated that regulatory oversight has not prevented the dissemination of misleading advertising by some pharmaceutical companies: “While generally effective at halting the dissemination of advertisements it reviews as misleading, FDA’s oversight of DTC advertising has limitations.”

“For decades, pharmacists practicing in hospitals and clinics have been the leaders in recommending and initiating evidence-based medication therapies in partnership with physicians and other prescribers — and in helping patients achieve optimal and cost-effective medication therapy outcomes,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP. “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.”

The new statement by ASHP supersedes a policy that was first adopted in 1997 and has been refined several times since. In calling for a ban on DTC advertising, the House of Delegates shifted away from a policy of opposing DTC ads unless they meet certain criteria and instead adopted a policy calling for an outright ban on DTC advertising of prescription drugs and medication-containing devices.

ASHP’s House of Delegates is the ultimate authority over the organization’s stance on important issues related to health-system pharmacy practice and medication use in society. The House of Delegates meets annually at the ASHP Summer Meetings and virtually in March and November, where it reviews policy proposals that have been approved by the Board of Directors.

About ASHP

ASHP represents pharmacists who serve as patient care providers in acute and ambulatory settings. The organization’s more than 43,000 members include pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. For over 70 years, ASHP has been at the forefront of efforts to improve medication use and enhance patient safety. For more information about the wide array of ASHP activities and the many ways in which pharmacists advance healthcare, visit ASHP’s website, , or its consumer website, .

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