To the Editor: As members of the Committee
on Bioethical Issues of the Medical Society of the State of New York, we agree
with Dr Hollon1 that DTC advertising creates
consumer demand, but disagree with Mr Holmer's2
claim that such advertising builds bridges between patients and physicians.
Direct drug advertising provides no real benefit to patients, is potentially
harmful, and is costly. We therefore urge the US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to review and strengthen its policies concerning this practice. We believe
that direct promotion to consumers should be limited to over-the-counter drugs.
We urge the FDA to request and designate additional resources for the policing
of its regulations by preclearing submissions from advertisers, monitoring
advertisements, and investigating complaints from consumers and health care
professionals. False, misleading, or deceptive drug promotions and advertisements
that cannot be supported by clinically valid and statistically reliable data
or that contain confusing or misleading words and phrases or give an overall
inaccurate impression3 should be forcefully
dealt with and, if necessary, penalties imposed and those responsible prosecuted.