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Most Americans Support Ban On Advertising of New Drugs

A majority of Americans support a proposal to limit direct-to-consumer advertising of new prescription drugs when they first come to market, a WSJ.com/Harris Interactive poll shows. But many other Americans remain uncertain about the ban.

More than half of Americans surveyed in the poll earlier this month say they think it is a good idea to forbid direct advertising of new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for some period of time so that doctors have time to become familiar with the drugs.

Thirty-five percent of those polled say they would favor a mandatory ban of advertising for the new drugs, and another 16% support a voluntary ban, according to the online poll of 2,207 U.S. adults.

That compares with 23% of those polled who say they would oppose any ban on direct-to-consumer advertising for new prescription drugs and another quarter of Americans who say they aren't sure whether they would support such a ban.

Legislators and the pharmaceutical industry itself are considering some form of moratorium on direct-to-consumer advertising as spending on prescription-drug ads has surged (to $4.1 billion last year), and in the wake of safety issues related to drugs such as Vioxx. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R., Tenn.) has urged drug makers to voluntarily wait two years before advertising new drugs to consumers. And Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has already agreed to wait a year before advertising new drugs to consumers. (See related article)

"In part, [support for a ban on advertising] seems to be driven by public concerns about the FDA's ability to appropriately oversee prescription drug advertising to consumers," says Katherine Binns, senior vice president at Harris Interactive.

There is little confidence among Americans that the FDA is ensuring the accuracy of prescription drug advertising and deciding which drugs should be allowed to advertise directly to consumers, the poll indicates. Thirty-five percent of those polled say the FDA is doing an excellent or good job of monitoring drug advertising, while 61% feel it is doing a fair or poor job.


Beckey Bright, The Wall Street Journal. July 19, 2005

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.. All rights reserved.