By Edward Opton
The American Medical Association (“AMA”) now recommends a ban on direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) prescription drug advertising. The powerful American physicians’ professional association adopted the new policy at its national meeting in November.
What does the AMA’s new policy have to do with psychotropic medication of foster children? Directly, not a lot, but symbolically it’s a giant step. The USA, as many of our readers know, is one of only two First World nations (New Zealand is the other) that allow pharmaceutical advertising directly to consumers. The United States is by far the world’s largest market for those drugs, and direct-to-consumer advertising almost certainly plays a large role in spurring that consumption. The highly sophisticated pharmaceutical industry would not spend billions of dollars on direct-to-consumer advertising if its data did not demonstrate the effectiveness of those dollars.
Although the AMA is a potent lobbying force, don’t expect to see the end of direct-to-consumer advertising anytime soon. The AMA is far outnumbered inside the Beltway by pharmaceutical industry lobbyists: more than one pharma lobbyist for every one of the 535 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.