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Safeguard patients from persuasive direct to consumer advertising of medicines: AMA.

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Australian Medical Association Limited ABN 37 008 426 793

42 Macquarie Street, Barton ACT 2600: PO Box 6090, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 5400 Facsimile (02) 6270 5499 Website :


The AMA has restated its opposition to direct to consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription medicines in a new Position Statement.

In its Position Statement on Direct to Consumer Advertising (DTCA), the AMA says that patients must be safeguarded against forceful advertising or marketing if they are to make informed choices regarding their health care services and products. According to the AMA, an informed choice is dependent upon receiving reliable, balanced health information, free from the influence of commercial considerations.

DTCA that is currently permitted in Australia includes some non-prescription therapeutic goods, encompassing over-the-counter medicines, complementary medicines, and medical devices, as well as health-related services.

The AMA believes that the primary purpose of DTCA is to increase demand and sales for the advertiser’s product, and the information provided to consumers/patients is usually designed to persuade, not just inform.

AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said today that newspapers, television and radio are full of ads for so-called medical programs, services and devices offering miracle cures.

“It is little wonder that many consumers can be confused or wary, while some may be vulnerable and seek false hope,” Dr Capolingua said.

“This form of advertising must not be allowed into the realm of prescription medicines.”

Dr Capolingua said that patients must be able to make informed choices about the goods and services they need to maintain good health.

“People must be able to get balanced information, but be protected from possible exploitation due to commercial considerations,” Dr Capolingua said.

The AMA believes that DTCA puts the commercial interests of the advertiser ahead of patients’ health and wellbeing, and has the potential to undermine patient autonomy and the doctor-patient relationship.

DTCA can create unnecessary stress and worries in otherwise healthy patients, increase demands by patients for medicines that are inappropriate for them, unnecessarily increase healthcare costs, and undermine the quality use of medicines.

The only two comparable countries that allow DTCA of prescription medicines are the USA and New Zealand. The AMA’s Position Statement on Direct to Consumer Advertising (DTCA) is available at

18 February 2008

CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761