How one pharma marketing exec hit back at the AMA's call to ban DTC drug ads
- Responding to the American Medical Association's recent call to ban direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads, Richer Meyer, a former Eli Lilly marketing consultant, penned an op-ed for STAT News arguing the AMA's approach is misguided.
- In November, the AMA voted to adopt new policy supporting a ban of DTC drug ads. The AMA argues drug ads spur patients to only ask their physicians for certain drugs, often ending up pushing higher priced, and sometimes unnecessary drugs.
- Richard Meyer, now an industry marketing exec, argues "DTC advertising increases awareness of health problems and leads to a better informed and educated patient who can engage their physician in a dialogue..."
While the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two developed countries to allow drug advertising directly to consumers, the industry argues patients deserve to be well-informed through print, digital and television advertising in order to facilitate better conversations with healthcare providers.
Meyer cites research supporting this view. He notes 53% of physicians felt DTC ads led to better discussions with patients, according to a study conducted by Eli Lilly. A 2004 FDA survey found DTC ads led 27% of Americans to make an appointment to discuss a previously undiscussed health concern.
These statistics support the argument DTC ads create informational value for patients, yet the AMA believes this kind of marketing helps to fuel the steady increase in prescription drug prices. In its policy statement in November, the AMA also noted drug makers advertising spending had increased by 30% in the last two years, raising questions on whether that money would be better spent in R&D.
Congressional authorization would be needed for any change to DTC advertising laws. The AMA, however, has a powerful lobbying presence.
Meyer contends doctors have become uncomfortable losing prescription writing power to insurers, and are concerned over consumers' increasing ability to shop for care. In his view, the AMA should work with drug companies to improve DTC ads, rather than banning them.
- statnews.com Opinion: The AMA is wrong about banning drug ads