The American Medical Association, U.S. largest physicians' group has urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to instruct manufacturers to complete an unspecified waiting period after a drug or device obtains regulatory approval before direct-to-consumer advertising is launched on television, in print, or elsewhere.
Although the doctors' groups have considered a years-long moratorium, they decided to let the FDA set the time span, depending on whether the drug or device breaks new ground.
According to physicians several patients demand inappropriate drugs after being exposed to a drug company's advertisement. Drug makers have said the ads educate the public and only advise patients to ask their doctors.
The house of delegates of the AMA which set the group's policy at its annual meeting has recommended that the FDA pre-approve such advertisements, ensuring that they are based on objective information from clinical trials that would reveal the balance between a product's benefits and risks, as well as define warnings and potential adverse reactions properly.
The AMA's president-elect, Dr. Ronald Davis said, 'Physicians will have the opportunity to become better educated on the pros and cons of prescription drug uses before prescribing them, and will be better able to determine when they are best suited for their patients' medical needs.'
A drug industry group has said that it shared the AMA's goal of educating the public which was proved by last year's agreement among manufacturers to voluntarily inform the health-care community before launching consumer ads.
Dr. Paul Antony of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said, 'The length of time this requires will vary from medicine to medicine, and companies will likely meet this goal in different ways.'
High-profile drugs like Vioxx was withdrawn by Merck in 2004 following the development of problematic side affects like an increase in heart attacks and strokes. Vioxx was popularized because of its huge advertising budget.
AMA' s decision came following argument by some plaintiffs in lawsuits that Merck continued to promote the painkiller despite knowledge that it carried risks.