In JAMA 6 years ago, Holmer (then president
of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) and I published
paired opinion pieces about the public health benefit of direct-to-consumer
advertising (DTCA). Holmer wrote, “[DTCA] is an excellent way to meet
the growing demand for medical information, empowering consumers by educating
them about health conditions and possible treatments.”1 I
countered that, “unlike the truly valuable contributions of the pharmaceutical
industry, [DTCA] is not good for patients, physicians, or the public’s
health.”2 Neither of us had much evidence
to substantiate our arguments. We agreed that policymakers needed studies
to determine more definitively the impact on public health.
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