Stop Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of Pharmaceuticals

Target: Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration

Goal: Crackdown on Big Pharma’s misinformation campaigns for new drugs.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing of pharmaceutical drugs has driven up prices and given false hope of miracle cures to patients. These ads are misleading, focusing on subjective concepts of lifestyle improvements over the adverse effects and actual benefits of these drugs. Big Pharma is targeting consumers directly to play into their fears of decreased quality of life in order to push newer drugs with less history of positive impacts to the forefront, leading to potential overmedication and pressure on doctors to prescribe them.

DTC ads tend to focus on the quality of life of the consumer rather than a fair comparison of the risks versus the benefits of a given drug for a condition. This leads to the dangerous practice of patient-driven prescriptions, in which doctors are pressured into prescribing newer medications that may have significant risks or unproven effects. Big Pharma is spending upwards of $5 billion per year on DTC marketing, reaching levels comparable to spending on marketing to physicians. In addition to misleading consumers, this significantly drives up drug prices.

Although the FDA already has specific guidelines on the content of DTC ads, a recent study indicates that these guidelines are only loosely being followed, if at all. The FDA’s guidelines focus on content that will inform the consumer of the risks and benefits, but most ads focus only on improving lifestyle with little information on the drug itself. This is a dangerous practice that leads to overmedication, pressure on doctors from patients to prescribe newer drugs, and inflated drug pricing to pay for this marketing. Sign the petition to urge the FDA to protect consumers by enforcing their own guidelines on pharmaceutical companies’ DTC marketing content.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Gottlieb,

Direct-to-consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals is driving up drug prices and endangering consumers. This practice of addressing patients directly with subjective themes of their quality of life on or off a given drug minimizes the information presented on the risks and benefits. This practice is misleading to consumers, is in violation of FDA guidelines on DTC marketing content, and can lead to overmedication and pressure on physicians to prescribe these medications.

Pharmaceutical companies spend around $5 billion per year on DTC marketing of drugs, which is approaching the amount spent on marketing to doctors. This significantly drives up drug prices in addition to confusing patients. DTC marketing can lead to self-diagnosis by patients, unnecessary doctor visits, and an overall strain on patient-physician relations. The qualitative focus on lifestyle over information is a detriment to consumers.

FDA guidelines are in place for a reason but are being ignored. Don’t let pharmaceutical companies continue to drive up drug prices and endanger consumers. Please, enforce the FDA guidelines on accurate, evidence-driven advertising and fair presentation of drug risks versus benefits.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mpelletier1

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3 Comments

  1. If this is about ALL OF THE DRUGS ADVERTISED ON TV, I AM SICK OF SEEING THESE ADS. THEY SEEM TO WANT PEOPLE TO FIND SOMETHING WRONG WITH THEMSELVES EVEN WHEN THEY MAY BE IN PERFECT HEALTH.

  2. Consumer beware! Big Corporations are never on your side, they want your money, your health, your life, they only prosper from your misfortune.

    Start a healthier life style, most illnesses can be avoided by simplistic eating, physical activity, enough sleep, avoiding stress – don’t sweat the small things!

  3. gen agustsson says:

    ban drug ads for good cause it brainwashes them to drugs and its not worth anything.

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