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Drug advertising

Governor of Minnesota pushes for ban of consumer drug ads

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: drug advertising, health news, Natural News


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(NewsTarget) Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently called on Congress to enact a two-year federal ban on direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertisements, and for Minnesota to increase its regulation of drug ads.

Pawlenty says the FDA was "mistaken" when it relaxed restrictions on DTC drug advertising, a move that has led to patients demanding drugs for conditions they don't have, rather than doctors recommending the best drug treatments to patients.

"What [the ban] is going to do is put...the decision making back to where it should be -- in an informed basis between the patient and the doctor, not having consumers duped by silly ads and butterflies and middle-aged men throwing footballs through tires with a smile on their face," says Pawlenty. "That's not how we should make medical decisions."

The drug industry has realized that DTC advertising is effective, as pharmaceutical firms increased their advertising budgets from $800 million in 1996 to $4.2 billion in 2005. Many doctors around the country feel pressured to prescribe drugs patients request by name, even though most patients would benefit more from healthier lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise.

According to Dr. David Luehr, president of the Minnesota Medical Association, he is often pressured by patients to prescribe sleep drugs "when maybe they just need to go to bed on a more regular basis," while other patients request expensive constipation medications when they would be better off eating healthier and engaging in exercise.

Ken Johnson, senior vice president of PhRMA, the drug industry's trade association, says Pawlenty's ban would harm the public's "ability to learn about new medicines in a timely fashion." Critics of DTC advertising -- which has been banned everywhere but the United States -- say drug firms have long disguised such advertisements as "public education" when in reality the ads accomplish nothing but driving healthcare prices higher and exposing countless Americans to potentially dangerous drugs.

"The scientific debate about direct-to-consumer drug advertising is over," says Mike Adams, consumer health advocate and critic of drug ads. "They have been clearly shown to be little more than commercial promotion campaigns designed to artificially boost demand for drugs by disease mongering and making ludicrous claims about non-existent drug benefits."

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