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Pharmacist Association Calls for Ban on Prescription Drug Advertising

ASHP urges changes to improve patient care and decrease costs

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is calling on Congress to ban all direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs and medication-containing devices.

The ASHP House of Delegates, convened at ASHP’s 2016 Summer Meetings and Exhibition this week in Baltimore, Maryland, approved a policy that states the following: “To advocate that Congress ban direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and medication-containing devices.”

A 2002 Government Accountability Office 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 Chief Executive Officer Paul W. Abramowitz. “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.

Source: ASHP; June 14, 2016.

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