AMA backs off anti-drug ad pose

The American Medical Association Wednesday decided against calling for a ban on TV ads for prescription drugs.

Instead, the AMA urged the government to require ads for drugs and medical devices to include a disclaimer noting that doctors may recommend "more appropriate" treatments than the promoted products. The AMA's vote, taken at the group's annual meeting in Chicago, also called for medical and consumer groups to wage an education campaign that would inform patients and doctors about both the benefits of and potentially misleading information purveyed in drug advertising.

Critics of TV ads argue they interfere with the doctor/patient relationship and needlessly jack up health care costs by prompting patients to demand prescription drugs rather than generics. But First Amendment concerns prompted the AMA to decide against calling for a ban.

Doctors supporting TV ads said the spots educate consumers about health conditions and treatments, prompting them to seek additional information from their physicians. - Bill McConnell