Thirty-nine medical, health and seniors’ organizations are urging Congress to stop the advertising of prescription drugs to consumers, Commercial Alert and the National Women’s Health Network announced today.
“Prescription drug ads are dishonest and dangerous,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert. “They hype the benefits and cloak the risks of prescription drugs.”
As Robert A. Schoellhorn, former chairman of Abbott Laboratories warned more than two decades ago, “We believe direct advertising to the consumer introduces a very real possibility of causing harm to patients who may respond to advertisements by pressuring physicians to prescribe medications that may not be required.”
“We agree. We would add that the possibility of creating another Vioxx catastrophe has only grown since then,” Ruskin said.
Amy Allina, program director of the National Women’s Health Network, points out that history has proved regulation of direct-to-consumer ads to be inadequate to protect consumers. “The ad campaigns promoting hormone therapy to women at menopause were a triumph of marketing over science. Drug companies ducked and weaved around the regulations for truth in advertising, touting unproven benefits for their menopause drugs which exposed millions of women to breast cancer and heart disease risks with little or no benefit to many.”
The groups are now seeking Members of Congress to introduce legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to stop direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug ads.
The following organizations have endorsed the Public Health Protection Act, which would end DTC prescription drug advertising, and are asking Congress to enact it: Action Alliance of Senior Citizens of Greater Philadelphia, Action Coalition for Media Education, Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, Alliance for Human Research Protection, American Medical Student Association, Breast Cancer Action, California Chapter of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, Center for a New American Dream, Center for Justice & Democracy, Commercial Alert, Congress of California Seniors, Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Consumer Project on Technology, DES Action USA, Essential Action, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, Florida CHAIN, Government Accountability Project, Gray Panthers, Health Care For All, Healthcare-NOW, Health Education AIDS Liaison-NYC (HEAL), Just Health Care, Justice in Michigan, Maine Council of Senior Citizens-Alliance for Retired Americans (MCSC-ARA), Maryland NOW, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Massachusetts Senior Action Council, Minnesota COACT, Missouri Chapter – American College of Physicians, National Women’s Health Network, Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans, New View Campaign for Women’s Sexual Problems (FSD-Alert.org), Obligation Inc., Pennsylvanians United for Reform in Health Care (PURe-HC), Pennsylvanians United for Single Payer Healthcare (PUSH), People Against Cancer, Physicians for a National Health Program, Prescription Access Litigation Project and the Women’s Health Institute.