The Lancet Editorial's The Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Genie

The Lancet Editorial's The Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Genie

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Editorial www.thelancet.com Vol 369 January 6, 2007 1 The direct-to-consumer advertising genie European commissioners are considering proposals to loosen Europe’s ban on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs. But before they proceed, they should look carefully at the US experience. Direct-to-consumer advertising has been allowed in the USA since 1997. The pharmaceutical industry claims the advertisements educate patients about health, inform them about new treatments, and encourage them to talk to their doctors about important health concerns. Opponents, however, argue the advertisements are simply that: advertisements, most of which push expensive new drugs even when less expensive and often safer treatments, or even no treatment at all, would suffi ce. A new US government report suggests such concerns are warranted. The report was published by the US Government Accountability Offi ce (GAO), a non-partisan investigative and research agency of the US Congress. The report reviews direct-to-consumer advertising in the USA and examines how well the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees these advertisements.
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