A leading group of doctors in the United States called on pharmaceutical companies to stop advertising their products directly to consumers as these contribute to an increase in costs and push patients to seek inappropriate therapies.

Members of the American Medical Association (AMA) said on Tuesday, Nov. 17, that their call for a change in policy reflects the concerns of doctors regarding the increasing prices of treatments. They believe this is a result of marketing spending by drug makers on unnecessary ads.

The move is considered to be a change from the group's earlier stand, which stated that the drug ads were acceptable only if they were accurate and educational.

The AMA ultimately voted to ban the advertisement of prescription drugs and medical devices during its annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

"Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate," Patrice Harris, board chair-elect of the American Medical Association, said.

The United States is just one of only a few countries in the world that allow drug makers to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers.

Advertisement Costs for Prescription Drugs

According to the AMA, the costs for advertising drugs have increased by as much as 30 percent in the past two years, reaching up to $4.54 billion.

Some of the ad campaigns released this year include Opdivo, a lung cancer drug manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Harvoni, a Hepatitis C drug made by Gilead Sciences.

U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has pushed for a crackdown on advertisements aimed directly at consumers as well as other policies that would stifle "price gouging" being conducted by drug firms.

Clinton believes these policies would effectively prevent drug makers from deducting costs on direct-to-consumer advertisements from their tax bills.

Several court decisions, however, have determined that implementing an outright ban on such advertisements would be in violation of the companies' commercial speech guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

The American Medical Association did not specify how the ban on direct-to-consumer ads could be carried out without receiving an overturn from the court.

Photo: Images Money | Flickr 

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.